In Greater Than Grief, Christena Estby documents her family’s journey through the trials, triumphs, pains and joys of raising four kids, two of whom have a terminal diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It is an amazing story of embracing life as it comes and along the way, finding positive coping mechanisms to manage when things get hard.
I’m thrilled to now review a second book whose author I know personally—it is so sweet to be able to share & promote the work of friends! As a family friend of first-time author Christena Estby, I was actually asked to be a pre-reader and editor on Greater Than Grief: Two Brothers Against Duchenne, which launched this month on Amazon. Wanting to break into more editing opportunities (with personal plans to also publish next year), reading & editing Greater Than Grief was an experience that held a lot of meaning for me, but also was so special to share with Christena, who is the mother of my sister’s boyfriend. How life-giving it is to celebrate someone on their epic successes!
Christena tells her stories in an extremely relatable fashion; such that you feel as if you’re having a friendly conversation over a cup of coffee. Although there is no cure for Duchenne, Christena and her husband have pursued almost every treatment and clinical trial (within reason) to make life for their two youngest children, Samuel & Josiah, enjoyable as their physical conditions will continue to deteriorate because of the disorder. The boys are biological brothers, though adopted by Christena and Cory as infants, and Christena includes anecdotes from their fostering and adoptive journeys as well.
“There is no shame or guilt in feeling how you feel. It’s OK to be sad—to cry in the middle of yoga class, or in your car. On the flip side, it’s also OK to be happy. There is lot of joy in life and peace to be found in the quiet moments. Embrace those moments with thankfulness because they might be few and far between at times.”Greater Than Grief (Self-Published, 2022) p.115
I laughed and I cried, but most of all, I had a renewed sense of empathy after reading Greater Than Grief. Everyone goes through tough circumstances, but not everyone has to live daily knowing that their loved ones will die from a miserable degenerative disorder. Even so, Christena’s book is one of hope, that of today and a brighter one for tomorrow. Rather than sitting in the sorrow of what’s to come, she has relied on faith, a strong community of support, a close-knit family and the beauty of parenthood.
This book is a great resource for anyone who is unfamiliar with Duchenne or other genetic muscular disorders. Although not research-focused, it provides a solid foundation for things to expect, ways to healthily cope with the diagnosis and a collection of further resources to look into.
This book may be for you if you also like: memoirs; personal narrative; faith; running; medical diagnosis; information about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or other neurological disorders; supportive families; the Midwest; communities; sipping coffee on the porch; adoption stories.