Thursday, October 1, 2015

Intertwining Threads of Grief.

Psalms 3:3-6 
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call  out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I always understood grief to be associated with an actual death. I never imagined how much grief a person could experience for someone who is still alive. 

My youngest son Ryan was diagnosed with Duchenne, a degenerative disease at the age of 5. At that point I went through the stages of grief. Denial, depression, bargaining (telling God how he was going to fix it), begging God for a miracle, then acceptance of this the new normal for not only Ryan's life but our family's as well.

I assumed once I went through the acceptance state of grief I would be done grieving. 

Yet within the first few years of his diagnosis, I watched helplessly as he slowly lost the ability to do the basic of things, stand, walk, lift his arms, and even give a hug. As these events happened I would find myself thrown back into the depths of grief. I would ask myself, " Haven't I already worked through the grief process"?  I was frustrated and didn’t understand.  I would get down on myself, wondering why I couldn’t move past the grief. I would say to myself," I must not be a good enough Christian. Maybe I needed to pray more, have more faith and trust in God. Why was I always falling back into the same struggle"? 

Then one afternoon I was listening to an interview of Pat Furlong. Pat is the founder of an organization called Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. She is also the mom of 2 boys that have since passed from Duchenne.  She stated, 
People would tell me 'grieving is a process' with specific stages, suggesting there is a beginning and an end. I have not found this to be the case, rather I think grief is a state that we learn to live with... When you are given a diagnosis like muscular dystrophy you not only grief the loss initially, you move into a 'State' of grief. There are different stages in this State but there is never an end.” 

Chronic Grief. 

As she spoke, I felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. She described exactly what I had been going through and how I was feeling. It had nothing to do with not believing in God enough, or lack of faith. It was my response to the reality of Ryan's diagnosis.

"For in grief nothing 'stays put.' One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?
But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?" C.S. Lewis ,  A Grief Observed

While this does bring understanding , it does not stop me from going through difficult times of sorrow. Often little things will bring a fleeing moment of grief, then larger life events, like this past week my son turned 18. A time when most kids are applying for colleges, becoming more independent, my son is applying for social security benefits. Those life moments hit harder. They bring about a deeper grief that may last a few days to a few weeks.

These moments of sorrow are like delicate threads of grief. Each one a separate strand yet they interweave through each other. As we allow God to come alongside us, to cry out to him in the midst of these moments, he will use each thread to strengthen our heart to prepare us for what is yet to come.   

Heavenly Father,

Grief at times can be unbearable. We cry out to you, we need you. Help us to feel your presence. Give us strength for each day. We cling to the promise that you will use all these things for good and for your glory. Lord we can’t do this without your help.  

Our cry out to you God.

In Jesus name,


Donna McKenzie 

Pat Furlong-

photo credit-Donna McKenzie

Song credit- Need you now-Plumb

1 comment:

  1. I think I can relate to this. I believe so too that grief does not have a specific end or beginning and what happens in the middle is just too crazy and hazy to explain to someone who haven't gone through it.

    Just when you thought you're done and you're all cried up it sneaks up to you and surprisingly, you can still cry oceans.

    I'm sorry to hear about Ryan. I pray you be constantly comforted. And I salute your boldness and faith. You are an inspiration.