2.7 Why Do Children Die?

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

Written by Barbara Karnes RN

I’ve had many responses to the blog I wrote about children and dying. Because of the discomfort felt in discussing child death, I am going to go out on a limb and give you something to think about. 

Unfortunately, children die. We are born, we experience, and then we die. That’s the name of this game called life.

There is no guarantee how long life will be. In our head we nod and say, “She lived a good, long life, 90 years old. We are sad but we knew it was going to happen, after all, she was old.” But when a child or young person, or a 50 year old or even a 60 year old dies, a rule seems to have been broken. Old people die BUT not young ones!!!! 

Many have asked me what belief has allowed me to go against the medical tide and spend all these years working in the field of dying and death. 

I worked with dying all the time. All my patients died, mostly older but a fewer number young and even fewer children. What allowed me to do this work (which is really against the medical model of death as a failure) was the belief that dying is a normal part of living, that everybody dies with “when” being the ultimate question. 

Here are the thoughts that get me through the night. Maybe they will comfort you, also.

We, humans, are all on this earth for a reason. We come with an outline for a task, a job to do, a purpose. Some of us figure out our purpose or even figure out another’s purpose but most of us just live our lives as best we can, meeting the challenges of life as they come. Life is hard work. Finding and living our purpose, whether we know it or not, is hard work.

Throughout our life our purpose unfolds and unconsciously we live out our reason for being here. When that purpose is complete we leave, we die. 

Who is to say our individual purpose can’t be completed in 3 months, in 3 years, in 30 or 100? I’ll throw in here that maybe some of us could live 300 years and not find or fulfill our purpose.

Who knows? Just something to think about. It brings me comfort.

It will NEVER be okay for anyone we care about to die, young or old. But we can get to a place of understanding, not accepting, but with an understanding, grief can proceed.

Something More… about Why Do Children Die?

I wrote My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience to help those with grief. It is also part of the End of Life Guideline Series bundle.