Helping Children And Caregivers Cope With Hard Situations

By their very nature, children are incredibly spiritual beings. Infants are frequently viewed as the ultimate miracle of the nature and are seen to be the example of everything sacred and pure. Children seem to be in touch with the beauty and rhythm of the universe, and their place in it, far more so than the adults around them. So, what happens when their experiences -- such as painful injuries or terminal illnesses -- don't square up with their belief systems? What role does spirituality play in a child's coping with chronic illness, in healing and in maintaining optimal health? These two questions will be the focus of two of the sessions in our upcoming Conference on Spirituality in Pediatrics: Providing Joyful Spiritual Abundance in Lean Times. John Graham, M.D., D.Min., President and C.E.O. of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center, is both a physician and a priest. He received national media exposure in 1977 when he used his microsurgery training to successfully replant the totally amputated arm of a four-year-old boy. In 1990, Dr. Graham left the practice of medicine and responded to God's call to the priesthood. His passion is to see the integration of spirituality and medicine, which he believes alone can bring optimum health. Dr. Graham will be presenting on The Role of Spirituality in Medicine where he will explore the dynamics of human spirituality and how spirituality can interface with science and medicine to create a sacred vocation. Paul Thayer, M.A., M.Div., D.Min., is the Chair of Child Life and Family Studies and Associate Professor at Wheelock College. He is an Associate Professor of Education and Child Life and teaches graduate and undergraduate child life courses including Child Health Systems, Clinical Issues in Child Life, and Child Life Administration and Program Development. He teaches graduate courses on Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Grief, Issues in Death, Dying and Bereavement Care. His research interests include pediatric hospice, therapeutic boundaries in professional care, spirituality and illness and bereavement care for children. Dr. Thayer will present a session titled, How Children Make Meaning of Illness and Suffering and Why it Matters. During this session he will examine how children make meaning of illness, death, suffering and ethics. This intersection of Pediatrics in Spirituality is an area that has been overlooked by so many for so long and I know that this conference will greatly benefit the children whose caregivers attend. For more information on our impressive line-up of speakers and on the conference sessions, go to We hope to see you there!