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When Children Suffer

The do's and don'ts of ministering to the ill or dying child.

Joe was sitting on the edge of his bed. An IV tube was stuck in his arm, but otherwise he looked like a fairly chipper six-year-old.

I was a new student chaplain on the general medical-surgical floor at Children's Hospital. The children on this floor, in most cases, were not seriously or critically ill-which meant that they could be a bit more lively in talking with a chaplain, or a bit more up to ignoring her!

"Hi," I said, "my name is Nina Herrmann and I'm the new chaplain on this floor. What's your name?"

"Joe White."

"Hi, Joe White. Do you know what a chaplain is?"

"No-do you give shots?" he asked, with the universal look of a child faced with a needle.

"No." I smiled. "They won't let me."

"That's good. Do you play games?"

"I can. But that's not the main thing a chaplain does. Do you go to church at home?"

"Yeah, most of the time."

"Do you know the person who stands up in the pulpit and preaches-the minister?"

"Yeah-are you one of those?"

"Yes. Only I work here at the hospital instead of at a ...

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