Jul 232013 15 Responses

Life Lesson from Ella: It’s Okay to Laugh and Cry

We think it has to be all or nothing.

You either hate me or love me. They are either on our side or against us. I’m either completely right or completely wrong.

We’ve lost all sense of discernment. (See: Ella on Kicking a Teacher, Telling a Knock-Knock Joke, and a Pre-Dinner Prayer)

We’ve forgotten I can be somewhat right and a little wrong. Some can like most of me but be irritated by certain qualities. They might be neither for us nor against us. They might not even know us.

We think it has to be all or nothing, but it doesn’t.

Last week on the Today Show, Matt Lauer and Dr. Nancy Synderman caused a tremendous stir in the blogosphere when they did a story on new prenatal testing and revealed a couple’s results on the show. Lauer called the negative test for Down syndrome as “good news” and Dr. Synderman made several references to “Down’s babies.” This offended many in the special needs community. Jennifer Towell responded with a blog post which you can read Here.

While I appreciate the quick defense for those with Down syndrome and while I have written several pieces about the importance of proper langauge regarding Ds, I don’t have a problem with calling a negative test for Down syndrome “good news.” I’m not distburbed by the term “Down’s babies.” For an opinion of the Today Show episode which I agree with, read Maureen Wallace’s article. Make sure to go to page 2 for her opinion.

There is a movement in the Down syndrome community to show the positive side of living with the condition. Noah’s Dad and others do a tremendous job at making people aware of the positive stories.

However, as some try to swing the pendulum away from only negative news regarding Ds, we run the risk of swinging it too far to the other side where only positive news is allowed to be told. When a woman is not allowed to be happy because her pre-natal testing came back as negative for Down syndrome, the pendulum has swung too far. (See: Why We Didn’t Sue our OB/GYN When our Daughter Was Born with Down Syndrome)

I have received minor criticism form the Ds community for openly discussing the grief which naturally comes when your child has a diagnosis. Of course there is great joy, tremendous love, and a child who is just like any other child. But there is also great sorrow and sadness for the struggles she has and will have to endure because of her condition.

We think it has to be all or nothing, but it doesn’t.

Down syndrome is a great blessing, but it’s also a tremendous grief. Ella’s birth was a tremendous joy which also had twinges of great sorrow. Every birthday, milestone, and transition is a time of wonderful celebration, but also a reminder of how things could’ve been but are not.

What Ella has taught me is that it’s okay to laugh and cry over the same event.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. (See: What I Prayed the Night Ella Was Born)

I wouldn’t trade Ella for anything, but I would take away her Ds in a heartbeat if I could.

I’m clearly against the eradication of Ds through prenatal testing, but I would be completely for a cure.

It takes discernment, but it is possible to navigate the vast array of emotions present in life.

  • A mom can have great pride while experiencing some sadness when they send their child to kindergarten.
  • A dad can rejoice when his daughter graduates high school while also being sad his little girl is all grown up.
  • A child can be heartbroken when their elderly parent passes even though they feel slight relief the days of care-giving are over.

Life is complex. Emotions are many.

We think it has to be all or nothing, but it doesn’t.

It’s okay to laugh and cry. Many situations deserve both.

15 Responses to Life Lesson from Ella: It’s Okay to Laugh and Cry
  1. Diane Fagan Reply

    And, of course, this applies to a wide variety of situations, too. You are an amazing guide, Kevin. Thank you for YOUR discernment.

  2. janet petty kohler Reply

    thank you for this line of thought……….when I was in seminary, so many folks believed in either, or. I was one of those who tried to live by and profess that it could be both/and………………janet

  3. […] They are full of encouragement, but they are also full of sorrow. (See: It’s Okay to Laugh and... kevinathompson.com/syndrome-stories-make-sad
  4. Alli Corbitt Reply

    This is so true! Thank you for sharing. We have one boy with Down syndrome, that was completely unexpected at birth; one boy without Down syndrome; and then one on the way that is 99% positive he has Down syndrome. When I first got my test results, I cried and then laughed at the fact that I was crying. Negative test results would have been good news, because nobody wants their child to have to struggle, but I am also happy for positive results.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thanks Alli. I would say both the laughter and the tears are right and God-honoring.

  5. Andrea Reply

    Love this. I feel sometimes that Christians, in our rush to affirm God’s sovereignty, neglect to acknowledge that we’re still waiting for our fallen world, bodies, minds, etc., to be fully healed and set right. In our case, the grief has been infertility. It’s been a situation where we’ve experienced God’s care like never before, and one that I have no doubts God will redeem ultimately, but at the same time it’s also been the greatest sorrow of our lives so far, and I have no wish to whitewash that grief.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Andrea, thank you for your comment. One reason I love Jesus is he never seemed to deny anything–the hope of tomorrow or the pain of today. Blessings upon you through this journey.

  6. […] No one hopes their child is born with Down syndrome. The news should not be delivered with great joy... kevinathompson.com/know-whats-best
  7. […] As it was then, so it is today. (See: It’s Okay to Laugh and Cry) […]... kevinathompson.com/better-day
  8. […] Some live in despair — unable to recognize the convergence of laughter and tears. […]... parents.nsm.edu.mx/?p=7
  9. […] At times, we should be sad. (See: Life Lesson from Ella–It’s Okay to Laugh and Cry) [... kevinathompson.com/not-every-tear-needs-a-diagnosis
  10. […] A Life Lesson from Ella: It’s Okay to Laugh and Cry […]... kevinathompson.com/cooking-with-ella-a-birthday-present
  11. […] Some live in despair—unable to recognize the convergence of laughter and tears. […]... kevinathompson.com/the-most-overlooked-characteristic-of-who-you-want-to-marry
  12. […] Some live in despair – unable to recognize the convergence of laughter and tears. […]... abovewhispers.com/2016/11/07/overlooked-characteristic-want-marry

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