14 February 2010

Breck's Thoughts: Spiral Feelings

Our friends Tim and Cynthia taught us a bit about grieving two years ago when we walked with them through the unexpected sudden death of their newborn.

There were many things we observed and experienced with them during their grief.  But one of the most valuable things I remember learning during that time was specifically about the grief process.

I learned that grief is not necessarily about going through "stages," linear single feelings or experiences  Instead, grief is more like going through a complex "spiral" in which one moves in and out of the feelings of grief as time moves on.

Ironically, I find this valuable now as I sort through my own feelings... 

It has been 4 months since we first learned of Bennett's diagnosis.  And yet, I still find moments where I feel shocked that we have a child with Cystic Fibrosis.

It has been 3 months since we started providing him CF care (such as enzymes, CPT, medications, etc).  And yet, I still find moments when my heart desperately doesn't want to accept the increased burden required to take to care for him.

It has been 2 months since Bennett was last admitted to the hospital.  And yet, I still feel disappointment and sadness over how fragile his health will always be.

Bennett is thriving and brings to us pure joy.  So, I have recently been surprised to see myself feel some of the same feelings I felt months ago: shock, denial, disappointment and sadness.

But if I remember what our friends taught us and modeled for us over the last two years, I will know that this is normal.  And this is part of what it means to grieve.

Years ago, a wise counselor of mine told me that "grieving demonstrates something matters."  He said, "when you grieve, you are admitting that what has been given up mattered."  And if I am most honest with myself, I would admit that Bennett being a healthy child matters.  Bennett's freedom to live without intrusive doctors appointments and procedures matters.  Bennett being able to become a grandfather matters. 

I believe grief only comes to the surface when you are ready.  And so, it is apt, that these feelings should arise now.  Life is so peaceful for us now.  I am no longer in "crisis" mode.  And because of that, my feelings are finding the space to be felt, grieved and dealt with they will continue to do throughout my whole life.

The feeling of acceptance is also a part of this new mixture of feelings that exists.  While, once again, I feel disappointment, sadness, shock and denial, once again, I feel acceptance.  Because to accept I am where I am is to believe that God is in control.

I can feel all of these very real and very human feelings of pain.  But I can also come to a place of peace, where I accept that God's hand is in this situation - and that there is a divine intervention despite the fact that I do not even fully understand it.

So, while I wish the tears and fears would once again subside, I am choosing to welcome these feelings once more.  They are nothing to be ashamed of or to be feared.  Feelings are always good.

But in the midst of this ongoing spiral, I can also say: this is where I have been placed - and despite the shock, disappointment, sadness and denial - for this I can be glad.

May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.  Psalm 104:34


  1. Hugs to you, friend. Wish we were closer, so that could be in person.

  2. Totally get where you are @ right now with dealing with CF. Ayla is fixing to turn 3 and i am getting better at living with this, but I didn't really deal much in the first few years. Still, whenever something happens that threatens her health it's like my world falls apart all over again. I am not sure there's a right or wrong way to handle this, but I too know that God has a plan for her and has before she was born.

  3. Thank you for this post, Breck. Our situations of pain and grief are SO very different, but this is something I have been dealing with for the past few days and felt bad for grieving something I had already told God that I had given over to Him. I think it's a continual process to keep surrendering control over to Him. At least it has been for me!

    Love you girl and am praying for you!!

  4. Breck, thank you so much for sharing your heart in this blog. It makes it feel like the distance from Boston to Waco isn't as great! And we can't wait to catch up in person in April =)

  5. Sending love and prayers to you guys. We're all here for you through each different season of grief you'll experience.

  6. Have you read "A Grief Observed"? I think it's absolutely beautiful and honest and vulnerable and comforting. One of my favorite sections from it that reminds me of what you wrote above -- "Sorrow ...turns out to be not a state but a process. ... Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat."

  7. Hello, your little boy's story has fasinated me. I myself have cystic fibrosis, I also had a meconium ileus at birth. I am a 22 year old female, I live in Michigan. Your son is adorable and I just wanted to drop you two a note and say that he is going to grow to be old! :-) I am proof, I was boring in 1988 and the life expectancy then was about 5 I believe, here I am 22 years later. It will be hard but Bennett and your family will learn so many important lessons in life; how valuable family is, your health, love. Cystic fibrosis has made me who I am today, and I would not take it back. It is a part of me. Would love to keep reading on about him.

    Thanks, Amber McKee


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