Over the past year, a group of grandmothers of children in the Me and My Mommy and the Inclusive Day Care programs, have been meeting to learn from each other and to support one another. The grandmothers cover the spectrum of Israeli society: young, old, religious, secular, from all parts of the country.
Via varied creative activities, the grandmothers were able to give expression to inner feelings, that they perhaps didn’t even acknowledge themselves, let alone reveal to anyone else. With each other, they were able to share their many reactions, emotions, frustrations, uncertainties, and the grief, that they perhaps were not able to show to the people closest to them.
Topics covered were the grandmother’s relationship not only with their disabled child, but with all their grandchildren, the tendency to compare children, and perhaps the difficulty to connect with the child who is disabled.
One session was led by Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum, director of the Down Syndrome Center at Hadassah Medical Center, who, in his customary patient and sensitive way, explained all about Down syndrome and answered questions.
The support group provided a safe venue to deal with the conflicting emotions, and the isolation that these Savtot felt. The group meetings taught them that they were not alone in their feelings, and opened a window of hope and cooperation. In the words of some of the women: “I have a new family – the family of Savtas at Shalva,” “I realized that I’m allowed to connect to my feelings,” “Pain and joy do not contradict each other” and “I rediscovered the inner peace I had lost.”