Finding Answers to Difficult Questions

Below are examples of difficult questions that may come up and examples of how you may want to respond:

  • “When will my brother/sister come home?”
    • If you don’t know, answer by saying “Your brother has to stay in the hospital until the doctors decide it is okay for her to come home. The hospital is doing everything they can in the hopes she can come home as soon as possible. Do you think we should bring him something that will make her feel more at home?”
  • “Is my brother/sister going to get better?”
    • “The doctors and nurses are doing their very best to make sure she is getting the care and the medicine she needs.”
  • “ Why can’t I go to the hospital?”
    • Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to visit patients at CHAM for infection control reasons. We understand that this can be a very difficult rule for some children to understand. You can address this by saying: “Your brother needs to rest right now so that the medicine can do its job. I know you want to go and visit, but we can make him a card or a video that a grown up can bring to the hospital to show them. That way he knows that we miss and love him. We can also call him.”
  • “Is my brother/sister going to die?”
    • Death is a very sensitive and difficult topic for a person of any age, but especially for children. If you have a child with a life limiting disease, use direct and simple language when explaining this to a child. Avoid using phrases such as “they are going to sleep.” Instead share your family's belief about what happens after death by stating “when the body stops working.”
      Our child life specialists can guide your children in a memory making project such as making a scrapbook of pictures of their family, writing a letter to their sibling or making handprints. A child life specialist can also be there when you are ready to have these conversations and can help you bring your family together.

Contact Phoebe H. Stein Child Life Program at CHAM

Donate to Phoebe H. Stein Child Life Program

Child Life Program Director
Meghan D. Kelly, MSEd, CCLS
Phone: 718-741-2360

For volunteers, school and community organizations, toy donations
Child Life Program Supervisor
Ingrid Ordóñez-Street, MEd/SpEd, CCLS
Phone: 718-741-2556

For internship opportunities
Senior Child Life Specialist Internship Coordinator 
Talia Haviv, MS, CCLS 
Phone: 718-920-2321