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Dad is very Ill. Child confused about God.



Dear Gary,

I just received this unexpected note from a 10-year-old girl whose dad is very ill with cancer. She wrote,  "Jonathan, you're a pastor. Tell me stuff why I should not worry about my dad , and why I should trust God . I know when you came over I said that stuff, but that time I was okay. But yesterday mom said that daddy just got sicker. I don't know what to do."

Any advise on how to approach this one.


I am so sorry to hear of this situation. Sadly it is one faced by many children throughout the world: the illness and risk of passing of a loved one.

Some with spiritual beliefs may think that their beliefs may spare them the tragedies of life, but as we know, tragedy knows no bounds.

This little girl needs permission to be upset, to honour her reasonable feelings for fear of the loss for her father and by chance an actual loss of her father. Her upset also speaks to her love of her parent, which is consistent with scriptures, honour thy parent.

When with her, it is more important that she is allowed to talk. Her talking is more important than our answering. As for spiritual beliefs, it not that any one of us are ever spared tragedy, but we are helped to cope with the love and support of others. That is part of the miracle of life. Further, we are always enriched by the memories we carry as well as the love expressed in the moment, yet another profound miracle of being human.

Tell her, whether here or in heaven, he will be well. He has the blessing of a daughter's love. Here we will be upset for our loss if that happens and in time, comforted by our memories. Then hug her.

Hope this helps.


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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


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