Here's What Really Matters In Life, According To Kids With Terminal Illnesses

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Twitter/Alastair McAlpine

If you’re a parent, you’re going to want to read this pediatrician’s Twitter thread

A pediatrician recently completed an assignment where he asked kids with terminal illnesses what gives their lives meaning. What they truly enjoy, what brings them comfort. Be warned, their answers will have you reaching for a box of tissues and burst your heart wide open.

Dr. Alastair McAlpine, a palliative pediatrician from Cape Town, South Africa, shared the results of his assignment on Twitter. Knowing better than anyone how valuable the lessons given by children are, McAlpine decided we could all benefit from their wisdom.

As you may expect, what really matters to kids most is time spent with loved ones — mom, dad, siblings, and cherished pets.

What’s also noteworthy about the things these children say they most enjoy is how they spent time with their families and friends — reading stories, building sandcastles at the beach, and doing things that kept their mind off being sick.

Another meaningful component of life? How the people they love make them feel.

Sometimes, the best family moments are the ones that seem completely ordinary. As long as kids are surrounded by the people they love the most, they feel loved. And that’s what we all remember at the end of the day.

It sometimes seems like our current generation of parents is always trying to go above and beyond. We are consumed with giving our children all the extras we weren’t able to experience as kids: expensive Disney vacations, blowout birthday parties, the latest high-tech gadgets. And being able to provide those things feels great, no doubt.

But those things — while amazing, to be sure — aren’t what gives life true meaning. Not to kids, anyway.

Playing in the yard with their dogs, snuggling on the couch with Mom, going on a hike with Dad, sharing a giggle with their sister in the backseat of the car — these are the moments that give our kids the sense of security, stability, and love that gives them something to grasp onto when life offers the crappiest circumstances imaginable.

“I was inspired to share the thread because there was so much negativity on my timeline,” McAlpine tells Scary Mommy. “My brave patients were countering it all with such beautiful and profound insights, that they immediately brightened my day, and I hoped that they would do the same for others.”