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Mother's reflections

Reflecting on the last few moments of a child's dying journey

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“I think I have post traumatic stress. I have so many horrible flashbacks. Two weeks after Max was diagnosed, he asked me if I’d be his Mommy forever. I said, ‘Of course I will.’ And he asked: ‘Even when I’m ninety?’ And I told him ‘yes.’ What was I supposed to say? And there were all the times he talked to me about the future. We’d talk about college. I just couldn’t tell him. God I was such a coward. I should have told him. I just couldn’t do it. Even toward the end. The day before he lost consciousness, I read his favorite book to him. It’s called Runaway Bunny. And the little bunny keeps threatening to run away. And the Mama bunny keeps saying: ‘Wherever you go, I will find you.’ Oh God, it was such a horrible way to die. He couldn’t speak or move or swallow or see. He basically starved to death. And the whole last week I’m whispering in his ear: ‘Let go, let go. Please Max, let go.’ My seven-year-old son. I’m telling him to let go. I mean, fuck. That’s not supposed to happen! And the whole time I never told him he was dying. I was such a coward. But he knew. He knew without me telling him. Because a couple weeks before he lost his speech, he asked me: ‘Mommy, do they speak English where I’m going?’”

Excerpt from Humans of New York - Cancer Series 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

1) Parents go through a roller coaster of emotions as they watch their children die. How can we help them through the process, and after the death of their child? 2) Humans of New York are raising research funds for Sloan Kettering through their cancer stories. Is there an opportunity to integrate design & patient experiences into basic/medical research?


Humans of New York - Cancer stories (


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Photo of Alice

Thank you, this is a great post. Something you never want to think about as a parent.

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