Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"From Grief to Celebration", by Margaret (Gary) Bender, Reviewed by Amber Malmberg

After blog-following some other moms with children who also have Down syndrome I came across the blog of a mom who's in an entirely different stage of life than me.  She was blogging about hunting for colleges, and her daughters independence.  She was blogging about her daughters accomplishment, and about everything I dream about for my little Royce.  Her blog was more refreshing for me than any others.  It was of hope, accomplishment, success, guidance, and joy.  

She has also published this book, From Grief to Celebration .  It's an easy 74 page read that allows the reader to experience through her eyes.  I found it honest and uncensored, helpful, personally un-relatable at times, yet completely relatable at others.

The book is broken into 11 "verbs".  First, Grief.  Second, Research.  And then: Incorporate, Promote, Include, Understand, Advocate, Expect the Best, Healthy Skepticism, Plan, and then Celebrate.  

Honestly, the mere word "grief" put a bad taste in my mouth.  I hated hearing it.  But you know what?  I've come to a place where I can finally appreciate other peoples reactions, and their honesty therein.  

I can relate to Bender as she states "Why did the mood in the delivery room resemble a funeral parlor instead of the party-like atmosphere that was present after the birth of my firstborn"(Bender,3).  Only she knows!  Only her and other moms who also have children with Down syndrome know that feeling.  
       
If I could change anything about this world, I would start with the way the hospitals are trained to react. Where were my smiles?  Where were the congratulations?  Where was Royce's party?  You can be dang-sure we celebrated HARD CORE by the way!  So Celebration would be my first!  I am also very moved and grateful for how she describes her reaction, her husbands reaction, followed by saying "Although we were together physically, I know for the few weeks following Alex's birth, we were apart emotionally.(Bender, 10).  Everyone reacts differently.  And each is right for that person.  That was a lesson I had to learn, and I deeply appreciated her sharing this truth in her book.   

Bender and I reacted differently in the second "verb"as well.  She shares how "As soon as possible after we learned Alex had Down syndrome, we began our research"(Bender, 17).  After Royce was born we were given reading material by a social-worker, given books, invited to blog-follow, etc.  I remember not looking at most anything for a long time.  He was a baby.  He was a BABY!  And I knew I had a lot of time to do all of that.  And naturally, I slowly read-up as I desired, and about what I desired.  I was very selective. 

I loved everything she shared under the "verb" of Advocate.  She talks about advocating for your child, but most importantly, giving your child the skills to advocate for themselves.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that!  "When Alex feels self-assured, she succeeds in advocating for herself"(Bender, 52)."I'll store that one in my memory bank!  

The "verb" Expect the Best was also full of great and relevant insight for me.  "I expect the best, but have learned to adjust as needed.  This is especially true when we're in a valley, or experiencing a temporary lack of growth"(Bender, 57).  This hits home for me.  I too expect the best.  I passionately don't think my Royce is "retarded".  I think he's "developmentally delayed", and there's a very distinct difference to me.  That doesn't mean I live in denial, it means I "expect the best, but have learned to adjust as needed"!  I also love her attitude.  She shares how "plateaus are simply resting places for her to take time to catch up"(Bender, 57).  I'll have to pin that one!

The "verb" Practice Healthy Skepticism was another great section that delves into her daughters accomplishments, and the lie of one's IQ.  Loved every word.
And most refreshing of all was her and her husbands shared desire to reach that "empty-nesters" stage.  Their ultimate goal is to help Alex become independent- as every parent desires for their children, and as we desire for Royce.  

Read it…and follow her blog too!
(www.downsyndrometeenager.blogspot.com)
You'll grow from them, I promise!  


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Reviewed by Amber Malmberg
Blog: This is My Life...And This is Joy!



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