Courage to speak out

Last updated 13:00 16/01/2014

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OPINION: Courage comes in many guises. Older Kiwis will most likely think of it in the form of Charles Upham, who twice won the Victoria Cross for outstanding leadership and courage in Crete and North Africa in World War II.

Then there are the modern-day heroes who leap into rivers or rough seas, burning buildings or shootout crossfire, with little or no consideration for self, in order to save others, whether as part of their occupations or simply right place, right time, right person coincidence. Less obvious examples of courage are numerous, if not always seen in that light. One such case is that of Nelson's Chisnall family, who featured on page one of the Mail yesterday.

Speaking out openly and publicly about impending tragedy cannot be easy. Their story is equally layered with sadness and hope, and as such offers lessons to us all in how to deal with adversity. Parents reading it would surely wonder how they would respond to such circumstances.

In brief, Alycia Chisnall is carrying twin sons, already named, and due in about 10 weeks. Harry is healthy. Oliver has such severe abnormalities that he is not expected to live on his own for longer than a few hours. Non-functioning kidneys have led to his lungs not developing, meaning he will not live outside the womb. Birth, generally associated with the beginning of life, will mean the end for Oliver.

The family, naturally, is torn between the pain of loss and the joy of one new brother on the way for Jack, who is six. Though he understands he cannot look forward to new twins in the family, he is focusing on the fact that he will still get a brother.

It is fitting that Jack got the last word in yesterday's article. Focus too much on loss, and we can lose sight of the many blessings that life and living brings. Whatever we face, choosing to see the bottle as half full helps us cope. Positivity is infectious; likewise negativity, and in equal measure.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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