Friday, April 29, 2011

No Time To Mourn

What is an Extrovert? (from Carol Bainbridge)
... A person who is energized by being around other people.
... Enjoys social situations and even seeks them out since they enjoy being around people."
... When given the chance, will talk with someone else rather than sit alone and think.
... Tends to 'fade' when alone and can easily become bored without other people around.
... Tends to think as they speak, unlike introverts who are far more likely to think before they speak.
- Carol Bainbridge

Quietness and Extroverts: An Oxymoron
... Quiet...can drive an extrovert crazy.
... An extrovert often thinks best when they are talking. Concepts just don't seem real to them unless they can talk about them; reflecting on them isn't enough. - Carol Bainbridge

I am an extrovert. I am rejuvenated by being around others. I become restless when I'm by myself too much or for too long.There have been times that I couldn't wait to "have the house to myself." Mike would take the boys somewhere for the day (or even for a few hours) and I would think, "Yes, now I can have some peace and quiet." Only to be saying, an hour or two later (sometimes even 15 minutes later), "This is boring. There's no one around. All my friends are busy with their families. The boys are out for the day and I have nothing to do." Granted, I had lots to do - house cleaning (boring!) - yard work (boring!) -  laundry (boring!) - but there was no one to talk with, no one to be around.

For 8 months after Austin died I had a lot of alone time. I would crave being around others, but dread it at the same time. Every conversation brought to mind something Austin said or did. All I wanted to do was talk about Austin. Talk about how much I missed him. Laugh and cry at things he had said or done. Relive different moments of his life. But you can only do so much of that, before you wear out your welcome in a conversation.

I was unemployed, and for 7 hours each weekday had the house to myself. I ran errands, by myself. I listened to the radio, by myself. I mourned, by myself. There were projects that needed to be done. Projects such as cleaning out closets and painting rooms. But, for several months I couldn't bring myself to do them - too much quiet, in one place, at one time. On occasions, I'd have lunch with a friend or gab on the phone with them. But, most of the day I was by myself - definately not what an extrovert wants or needs.

Or is it? Sometimes, a little quiet is just what is needed, even for an extrovert...

A few weeks ago I started back to work and found myself, every week-end, very short and edgy. I think my family was ready to ground me to my room - where they couldn't see or hear me. I couldn't figure out why my mood seemed to change so drastically every week-end. And then it occurred to me: All day I'm focusing on work. In the late afternoon and into the evening I'm busy with the boys, making sure they get their work done, running them to their sports, getting dinner, and straightening the house. Throughout the entire day I don't have time to spend with my thoughts of Austin and in the evening I have no quiet time to reflect on my missing Austin. Basically, I've had "no time to mourn".

I had not realized the importance of "alone time". Prior to going back to work I had a lot of time (sometimes, maybe too much time) to work through my feelings. As sadness came over me I could "sit in it" as needed, usually for only 5-10 minutes, letting the tears come, allowing my mind to reflect on my thoughts, and then continue with my day. I would call a friend and chat for a bit, occassionally talking about Austin, but usually just light conversation - laughing about little things, but lightening the mood. Now, as an "Austin thought" comes to mind, I usually have to push it aside to focus on my work during the day. When the boys are home there is no such thing as "quiet" time, no time to process.

Just to type these words, "I need quiet time, time to myself" seems strange. Quiet time goes against my "extroverted" personality. I am not wired to be alone, usually. I realize, however, these are not usual times. This year has gone against what life is "supposed" to be. So I need to figure out how to work in this new friend, "quiet time".

To add to the previous post... "Today, I understand. Quiet is precious. Sometimes quiet clears the way for sounds... or for thoughts we rarely give ourselves time to embrace and process. Quiet is vital to our well-being. Today, I treasure the moments of quiet, no matter how small."

A couple weeks ago I was able to find quiet time here and there, and my week-end mood showed it. Last week was a little more challenging: the boys were home on vacation all day and my 96 year-old grandfather-in-law was here for a visit. There was no quiet time to be found. But I made it through and am back on track this week. Now that I'm aware of what I need - quiet moments - I try to work them into the day. Whether it's a quick drive to the store, alone, or making the most of the little moments I have, whenever I have them.

Throughout life, our circumstances change and we must change with them. If we insist on doing things the way we have always done them, we sometimes do ourselves a major disservice. We don't allow ourselves to grow and become the most we can be. I believe my overall personality will always the same - I love socializing, always have and always will. People energize me, give me extra life. But, today, life's experiences have impacted me in ways I never imagined, and I must allow myself to adjust with them...

I am an extrovert. But I am in a stage of life when I must realize that I need 'alone' time, more than I have ever needed before, to continue to work through my loss. The amount of quiet time required each day will change as time goes on - it already has. But for now, I must allow myself to enjoy those silent moments, reflecting and knowing that some day I won't need "time to mourn".

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Just Want Quiet

I have been trying and trying to write another blog entry, but the business of life has gotten in the way. This week has been especially busy, with the boys on spring break, having lacrosse practice in the evening, and me still trying to work from home. Earlier this morning, I read a very short story from 50 Things that Really Matter, and it tied directly to the blog I've been trying to write for over 2 weeks now.

The following really hit home - especially for me, the extrovert...

"Today, I understand. Quiet is precious. Sometimes quiet clears the way for sounds we rarely stop to appreciate, like the trickling of a stream, a ticking clock, or even the hum of the car motor. At other times, quiet completely takes over, like during a snowstorm - birds hop on the snow, squirrels run around, but nothing makes a sound. It's just quiet.... In a world full of honking horns, blaring music, echoing restaurants, and TV commercials so loud they make the dog run and hide, sometimes I, too, just want quiet." - 50 Things that Really Matter

My next blog, "No Time to Mourn", will touch more on my need for quiet - if I ever have enough quiet time to get it done. ...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Together, But Alone

When Austin was born, there were no words to describe the love I felt for him. Being my firstborn, nothing could have prepared me for the love that would fill my heart and change me for the rest of my life. And of course, I thought no one else could understand how deep my love was and how much I wanted to protect him, forever.

There is no one else who had the same relationship with Austin. as I did. There is no one else who carried him for 9-months, gave birth to him, and then watched him grow from a tiny, newborn baby (well, maybe not so tiny) - to an adorable toddler - to an enjoyable, but sometimes exasberating preteen and teenager - to a dynamic young man (who could still keep me up worrying at night - but then again, I think mom's do that for their entire lives, once they have kids) - all while loving him more and more everyday. There is no one else who, from the time he came into this world, to the time he left this world, worry that she was doing the right things for Austin.

Over the past couple years, when I lived in different state than Austin, I would still wake, in the middle of the night, praying he was safe, and doing ok. I would call him the next morning, informing him I'd been awake much of the night worrying about him. He would laugh and say, "I slept great." To which I'd respond, "Well, I'm glad at least one of us had a good night sleep." He'd chuckle, saying, "Yeah, I know..."

I was the only person who experienced  the mother-son relationship with Austin. The feelings I experienced, as I watched him grow, were mine alone. As I observed him interact with friends and strangers, sharing his love of life and love for others, warmth would fill my heart. One of my last memories of Austin is watching him, sitting around the table with his uncle and a friend, laughing about everything. As I walked by, taking in the sight and sound, I smiled, thoroughly enjoying what I saw, feeling such enormous love for him - love that started 21+ years earlier.

Just as no one else can experience the same love a mother has toward her child, no one else can experience the same grief a mother experiences when she loses her child. This makes grieving a paculiar thing - with caring, loving, supportive people all around - you grieve together, yet alone.

There are days that I'd love to plop next to someone and say, "Man, I miss Austin." To which they'd respond, "Yeah, I know what you mean."  And they would truly know what I mean, no explanation needed. But, realty is, there is no one else who knows exactly what I mean. Just as I don't know exactly what Austin's friends, brothers, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins mean when they say, "Man, I miss Austin."

I know it may not make sense when I say, "Sometimes it feels like I'm grieving together, yet alone."  In fact, I was thinking about it the other day and decided to "look it up", to see if this is a "common" feeling for ones grieving. And what do you know, I was right! Here's a sampling of what I found...

"Accept your uniqueness. When you grieve, you bring who you are and your entire life history to the experience. The natural consequence, therefore will be thoughts, feelings, and needs that are uniquely yours. Even those people you are closest to, who may have known you your entire life, or who have endured similar losses, cannot fully comprehed what you are going through. Your emotional experience is yours alone.... It isn't unusual to feel alone when you grieve." - excerpt from

So, I'm not that unusual, after all. Like it or not, this is simply part of the grieving experience - even nine months after the loss. I am sharing this, not for sympathy, but because I am so thankful that even when others can't understand fully what I'm going through, they have stuck with me, been there for me. They have supported me in ways that are unique to them and I am grateful for everything they have done. It has made my journey on this foreign road bearable, knowing that even though, at times, I'm alone, others are with me!

"As you face the changes your loss brings, and you acknowledge your life's remarkable uniqueness, you might begin to better understand why others are limited in their ability to support or understand what you're going through. There's a part of your experience they never really can understand, because it is uniquely yours." - excerpt from

When we recognize our feelings for what they are and realize that they are ours, and ours alone, we can embrace them and continue to live - continue to truly live life-to-the-fullest!