The silent sound of support

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The silent sound of support


Interviewing cancer patients and their families, I learned the four stages of facing death. It generally begins with denial: “This can’t be happening to me.” The second stage is anger: “Why me?” And followed by depression and frustration. Eventually, you move on to acceptance and compromise.

Parents who find out that their child has a disability go through similar emotional stages. That’s how one of my relatives behaved when it happened to him.

It all began when his neighbor cautiously mentioned that his two-year-old girl seemed unresponsive when her name was called. At first, the parents refused to believe that their daughter could have hearing problems.

Eventually, they took her to a number of prestigious otolaryngologists and learned that she had an untreatable condition. When they got the final diagnosis, they spent many sleepless nights full of frustration and depression.

It was some time before they accepted the condition as it was. With hearing aids, the girl grew up and completed her education without much trouble.

When she got older and was about to get married, her parents started to get anxious again. They called her fiance while their daughter was out and said, “More often than not, she won’t respond no matter how many times you call out to her. This could create a lot of frustrating situations and misunderstandings between you. How are you going to deal with that?”

The young man said, “When I call her once and she doesn’t respond, I’ll call her again. If it doesn’t work the second time, I’ll try one more time. If it still doesn’t work, I’ll go up to her and tell her what I have to say. I’m going to be her husband, so that’s what I have to do.”

The parents was greatly relieved. They appreciated that he hadn’t said conventional things like “I’ll help her out” or “I’ll give her extra consideration.” When I met the groom, I gave him my quiet blessing as I grilled galbi for him, not needing to say much more.

From July 27 to Aug. 4, the 22nd Deaflympics were held in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Korean team came in third after Russia and Ukraine, with 19 golds, 11 silvers and 12 bronze medals.

Each medal and each athlete has a story, all of which likely include a significant contribution from their families. They offered the deaf athletes the support and encouragement they need to succeed, just as the husband-to-be said he would do whatever it takes to communicate with his wife.

In fact, Team Korea also finished third in the last event in Taipei four years ago. It’s a terrible shame that I only learned about the Deaflympics recently. The next event is to be held in Ankara, Turkey in 2017. How about a Korea bid to host the games in 2021?

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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