How To Use The Power of Questions To Get Through Anything by Helene Rennervik Coaching online consulting

Tools for Coping When Your Child is Ill: Questions


This is another post tools for coping with your child’s illness and focuses on asking the right, empowering questions. I truly want to give you something to hold on to during this difficult time. My last blog post was about hope, and how we must allow the mystery of hope to find a home inside us. Today I write about the power of questions because they have become my “secret weapon” to manage any difficulty.

Tools for Coping When Your Child Is Ill: Questions

We need all the tools for coping that we can find when our child is ill. You may find some of your own that are a bit unusual. I have learned a lot about the power of questions (not answers!) Today I use them all the time, not only to manage my own reactions to life, but to help my child. I use them in my coaching to shift people’s mind toward possibility and away from despair and toward resourcefulness. You can visit my coaching page at to read more.

Ask the Right Questions

When my son Yousef was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t have many tools for coping with his illness. All I had were questions. At first, they weren’t the most empowering ones. They came out of fear and confusion when he suddenly broken leg while playing his favorite sport, soccer (football.) He hadn’t collided with another child. He hadn’t fallen in a hole or stumbled over anything on the field. Yet, there I was, rushing to the school because the nurse feared he’d broken his leg.

What followed shortly after was a second break, which both his father and I knew was really strange. Even worse to watch was how our child was in such pain, his reaction so out of character, and seemingly out of proportion to his injury.

But a trip to the Emergency Room showed us that these weren’t just accidents. Yousef had cancer. There was a cause behind his suffering and now we knew our child was terribly sick. What we wouldn’t find out for a while was the type of cancer he had and his prognosis for cure and recovery.

Maybe you’ve been through the incredible uncertainty of that time. Your child is still suffering and ill, and you have no answers.

Picture : Yousef at The Dubai Hospital

Tools for Coping When Your Child is Sick: Questions

In my book Hoping and Coping: How My Darling Little Son and I Broke Free of Cancer you can read about how I handled all this: not so skillfully at first! Of course it utterly disrupted everything about our day to day life. It challenged all my assumptions and beliefs, and probably all of Yousef’s too.

When the doctors told me this unbelievable news, once my mind starting working again, all I had were questions. What does this mean for my son’s future? What will he have to go through? Why him? Why us? Could they be wrong? Where did he get it? What will his life be like? Will he recover?

One the most immediate (and biggest) questions was: How will I tell Yousef? How does any mother tell their child that they are sick with cancer and they are facing pain, treatments that will make them feel sick, tests, operations, and many days in the hospital? Even worse, how do i tell him any of these things when I am not even sure myself?


Powerful Questions


Eventually, my more frantic questions quieted down. My daughter Salina helped enormously, reminding me how important it would be to speak to Yousef calmly and to be honest about what I did and did not know. He had cancer, yes, but we would be confident. He would have questions, and yes, so did I. I would tell him so. Together we would cope with the answers.

For myself, I learned how the right questions can be powerful, and can move us from feeling terrified and worried, to hopeful, resourceful and able to look for possibilities. Eventually, I became very intentional in my questions. I asked them to open myself to something more useful, helpful, and hopeful.


The Wrong Questions Always Make it Worse!


Today, I use questions in my coaching practice to help people see their lives in a new way. They help shift the mind to a different perspective, and in that shift there is so much possibility! I believe that questions always empower. Being so sure of the answers is what shuts us down to what’s possible next. So, I wonder how shut down you are with negative answers that are based only in your fear?

Here are some questions that are typical: Why me, why him, why us? What did I do to deserve this? Why does a child have to suffer this way? What will happen now?

 How very human to get caught up in the swirl of fear. So, I forgave myself those disrupted, unhelpful questions. What would it feel like for you to let those types of questions go? (Believe me, everyone is going to ask, “Why me, why us?” so you’re not alone!)


The Right Questions Always Empower


Listen, in the beginning I think everyone wonders, “What’s right or fair or good about this nightmare!?” Everyone asks, “What if the worst happens?” Think of your repetitive and negative questions as proof you know how to use them!

Now you can learn to ask the ones that open up your experience instead of shut it down in fear and hopelessness.

hoping and coping book helene rennervik how my darling son and I broke free of cancer


Use the questions to become resourceful. What I suggest in my book Hoping and Coping: How My Darling Little Son and I Broke Free of Cancer is that you use questions in a more positive way. Use them to create a different outcome, a different future. The right questions open up possibilities, especially if you make sure they are open-ended, (not just “yes” or “no”) questions.




Here are some to try when you are fed up, discouraged, afraid, exhausted, feeling like there is no way out. You can ask:

  • What might be possible now that I haven’t even imagined yet?
  • Where is the miracle going to come from?
  • What can I do to make this moment the best it can be?

Helping Your Child Cope With His or Her Illness


Then, of course there are other questions that will come to you naturally. They will be about your desire to love and care for your child.

  • What do you need, my darling?
  • What can I do to help you?
  • What do you want to tell me?

The key here is to listen to the answers and do the best you can to just be there, no matter what they say. You don’t need the answers. Just witness their asking.

Today, when you find yourself stuck or hurting, pull a question out of your tool-belt. Maybe try this one:

What small miracle is hiding right here, waiting for me to notice?


Feel Hugged,



How To Use The Power of Questions To Get Through Anything by Helene Rennervik Coaching online consulting


P.S. To download my booklet How To Use The Power of Questions To Get Through Anything you can click here.







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