Sick child chooses heaven over hospital

October 29, 2015
From left: Michelle Snow, Julianna, Steve, Alex

From left: Michelle Snow, Julianna, Steve, Alex (CNN)

A mother asks her five-year-old daughter again and again and again: If you get sick again, do you want to go back to the hospital, or do you want to go to heaven?

Her daughter chooses heaven, knowing that it means she will stop moving, and stop thinking, and stop doing anything.

The mother asks again. If you go to heaven, mommy and daddy may not be able to join you for a while. You have to go alone. If you go to the hospital, you can be with mommy and daddy a little bit longer.

“Don’t worry. God will take care of me,” her daughter answers.

Julianna Snow, who calls Portland home, suffers from a rare, degenerative disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. Her parents, Michelle and Steve Snow, want to honor Julianna’s wishes.

Julianna’s story was first made known through Michelle’s blog, where she records her thoughts, conversations and facts about her daughter’s illness.

Because the disease weakens her muscles, Julianna has trouble sitting, walking, breathing and eating — she’s now fed through a tube. Doctors say even a common cold could be deadly.

Michelle, who is Korean, has given Julianna a Korean name, “Yuri.”

She may only be five, but she has been in the intensive care unit thrice already.

Michelle, a neurologist, has had many talks with her daughter about “heaven” and the hospital. In her blog she details her conversations with Julianna:

Me: Julianna, if you get sick again, do you want to go to the hospital again or stay home?

J: not the hospital

M: Even if that means that you will go to heaven if you stay home?

J: Yes

M: And you know that mommy and daddy won’t come with you right away? You’ll go by yourself first.

J: Don’t worry. God will take care of me.

M: And if you go to the hospital, it may help you get better and let you come home again and spend more time with us. I need to make sure that you understand that. Hospital may let you have more time with mommy and daddy.

J: I understand.

M: (crying) – I’m sorry, Julianna. I know you don’t like it when I cry. It’s just that I will miss you so much.

J: That’s OK. God will take care of me. He’s in my heart.

After the story became widespread, from The Mighty to CNN, many have expressed concern about Michelle and Steve’s decision to follow Julianna’s wishes in not taking her back to the hospital if she were to get sick.

“If she gets sick, we’ll ask her again, and we’ll honor her wishes,” Michelle wrote on her blog. “Very clearly, my 4-year-old daughter was telling me that getting more time at home with her family was not worth the pain of going to the hospital again. I made sure she understood that going to heaven meant dying and leaving this Earth. And I told her that it also meant leaving her family for a while, but we would join her later. Did she still want to skip the hospital and go to heaven? She did.”


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  8. Thanh Bencriscutto

    September 14, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    I am in tears after reading the firm assurance of a little child. She has faith more than me. At the very young age and understand God will take care of her, she is far more understand about God. She knew life on earth is just a passing.
    I am so proud of her parents. Who has God in their lives and instilled this believe in their child.
    I saw now aday most Korean people became Christians. Was in Korea for two weeks and experienced first hand how Korean Christians interact. Lost my iPad in the Kofic Studio park, where period scenes is filming. Someone found it and returned to office. Got it back and speechless from honest people whom found it. They left no name or else I would write thank you note to them. I believed this country will prosper in God’s hand.

  9. disease

    April 29, 2017 at 5:47 AM

    The Asahi Shimbun

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    September 11, 2017 at 11:46 PM

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