Why Do Children Die?

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. 

Related products


Stacy Potter

Your take on our purpose for being here and dying is echoed in the book Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends by Neale Donald Walsch .
BK Books replied:
Hi Stacy, I’ve read a lot of Neale Donald Walsh. Don’t know how I missed that one. Thanks for sharing. Blessings! Barbara

Jan Hildreth

Do you have any “words of wisdom” for those parents who lose a child to suicide? To me this is the worst way to lose a child, but can’t really compare pain/suffering!!
BK Books replied:
Hi Jan, I do not have any “words of wisdom” regarding child suicide. I can think of no words that can ease that pain. What I do offer is — find a way to let your life and how well you go on living be the tribute of the love and life of your child. It isn’t how many tears we shed but how well we go on living in their name and honor. Blessings! Barbara

Shelly Cole

Hi Barbara, As usual your article is great! But I wish that there was a way to respond to people, but I get why you can’t. I just want to tell all of the commenters prior to my comment here, that they are just phenomenal! What a GREAT group of women!
BK Books replied:
Hi Shelly, I’m putting your comment with the others so if they come back to the website and read they will see your support and praise. I too think they are great! Blessings! Barbara

Zoe Kharpertian

Barbara, you continue to be such a source of hope and inspiration for me. I first connected with you back in 2016 when my daughter was in hospice. I shared your booklets with her and her response was, “Why didn’t someone tell me about these ages ago?” I can’t tell you what comfort and peace you brought to my whole family with your wise words. Kiara died at the age of 31 of metastasized breast cancer. The day after she died, I was pretty much in a daze, but I remember clearly thinking and telling those around me that her life had come full circle, that she did what she came here to do and then she left. Your column here exactly echoes and confirms those feelings. You are certainly doing what YOU came here to do, with flying colors. I will always treasure your guidance and your healing words. Sending much love and heaps of gratitude to you.

BK Books replied:
Hi Zoe, thank you for the kind words about my work. We leave when we have finished what we came here to do just makes sense to me. It gives purpose to a life lived no matter the length. Blessings! Barbara


Barbara—I work in hospice care, and had the honor to meet you a few years ago at an NHPCO conference (we are also Facebook friends). As a mom who lost her son at birth, I agree very much with what you write here. It took me years for my heart to wrap itself around this concept, and while it still doesn’t make anything “ok”, I cannot discount the work I’ve done with other bereaved moms (over 700 worldwide) since then, and it would have never happened if not for my son briefly passing through me and my life. If I can’t make peace with the loss, I’ll at least give it purpose.
BK Books replied:
Hi Becky, thank you for sharing your experience of loss. Your words “If I can’t make peace with the loss, I’ll at least give it purpose” fits with my thoughts on how we channel our grief can be a tribute to our departed loved one. In sync minds!Blessings to you for the work you are doing. Barbara

1 2

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published