Sometimes Plan A is not an option.

Chris Feudtner is a pediatrician who focuses on improving the lives of children with complex chronic conditions and their families. He often has to have conversations with parents that he describes as the most difficult of their lives.

In these scenarios, their deepest wish cannot be granted. As he processes this reality with the family, at the appropriate time he’ll ask: “What else do you hope for?”

At first, it’s nearly impossible to imagine anything else other than for their only wish—for the child to survive and be healthy. But in time, the parents might say: “We hope that he is able to spend as much time with his family as possible, for as long as that will be possible.”

Chris responds: “That is something we can make sure of. What else do you hope for?”

The parents might respond: “We hope that we can all deepen our love together in the time we do have together.”

Chris: “That is something we can help make happen. What else do you hope for?”

Eventually, they are able to come up with a plan and vision that is the best they can hope for given the circumstances. It’s not option A, it’s not even close to option A, but it’s the best that can be hoped for based on the realities at hand.

Sometimes option A is not available. And when this is the reality, you might ask: “What else do I hope for?”