Palliative Care through the Lens of Chinese Customs and Ways of Thinking
Palliative care in China is far from being a mainstream topic. Seeing that Angel’s Wings Children, founded on October 31, 2017, was only the second palliative care center for children in the entire country, few people seem to know and support them. This lack of understanding is due to several customs and ways of thinking:
People are unwilling to talk about or surround themselves with death. Death can bring too much negativity into one’s life, so the topic is generally avoided. Talking about or regarding a person’s death when they are still alive is also seen as disrespectful.
Generally, familial matters are kept private. People are not keen on sharing their personal struggles with others outside of very close friends and family. They do not want to impose their own negative feelings onto others, nor do they want to be pitied.
Mental health isn’t a mainstream topic either. People do not seek professional help regarding these issues often, as there is stigma surrounding it. Parents usually choose to overcome these emotional struggles on their own instead, with only their family’s support.
Palliative care is often wrongly viewed as a statement of definitive death. Parents devote their all to their children and will sacrifice everything for them. Agreeing to palliative care is akin to giving up on all hope for their child, and is contradictory to the love they have for them.
Of course, there are many, many exceptions. Every individual thinks differently, and customs vary by location. In fact, knowledge and acceptance of palliative care is improving as more and more Chinese journalists are writing articles supporting palliative care and Angel’s Wings Children. We hope that Angel’s Wings Children can continue to gain more support for their work to reach more families in need of assistance.