Questions in a Can – An Activity for Children and Families Impacted by Illness and Death

“What happens if my special person dies?”

“Is my special person’s serious medical condition contagious?”

 “Where does someone go when they die?”

 “Was (name of special person) in pain when they died?”

When someone special in our life is diagnosed with a serious medical condition, it is normal to have questions about their treatment and prognosis. Similarly, when we experience the death of someone special, we have questions surrounding their death and about death in general. Sometimes these questions are uncomfortable to ask, so we refrain from asking. Some of our questions may not have answers, but it is still important to talk about them. Here at Tu Nidito, we like to use the “Questions in a Can” activity to talk about these questions.

Questions in a Can Activity:

On a slip of paper, write down any question you have related to your special person’s death or their serious medical condition diagnosis. Your questions are anonymous, so there is no need to feel judged and you can use additional slips of paper if you have more than one question. Designate a jar, can or cup for dropping in questions. Sit down as a family and pass the questions container and one at a time, choose a question. Read the question aloud and provide your best answer. If you do not have an answer to the question, that is okay; give other members of the family a chance to share their ideas and answers. Continue to pass around the container until all the questions have been pulled or until your family decides they want to stop.  The important thing is that each member of the family has a chance to respond or ask any questions about death or serious medical condition.

This activity can be modified to fit your family’s needs. For example, families can choose to complete the entire activity in one sitting. Or, if your family needs some time to brainstorm questions, leave the container out in a shared space in your home, along with blank slips of paper, so that family members can drop in questions as they come up. Designate a time, weekly or even monthly, to sit down together and answer the questions.

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