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!

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