Still Standing

A Decade of New Year Grief

Starting a new year after losing our son in 2008 seemed inconceivable. How could we move forward without him, knowing he would be missing from 365 days of that year?  Though it has been a decade now, each January, when the calendar turns I am taken back to that first year without him.

Below are excerpts from a journal entry I wrote that year…and my reflections since.

I’ve never started a year with this much uncertainty, fear, and sadness. To know I’ll face an entire year without my son by my side tears me to the core. The only thing that keeps me going is God, Noah, and honoring Austin’s memory.
-there isn’t a year (or day) that goes by when I don’t miss him, think of what could’ve been, or where he would be now. My faith, family, and his memory are what continues to push me forward.

Related: A New Year

2008 started like what seemed to be an ordinary, normal year…
-there will always be a distinct before/after grief. You never know going in when a tragedy will happen or how it will forever change you.  To this day, I breathe a sigh of relief if we make it through an entire year unscathed.

My career change allowed me my first “summer off” in a decade, which meant free weekends to spend time with my boys. We had mini road trips all summer, ending with a bang at a weeklong retreat in Florida. I treasure the extra time given this year to spend with my kids. It allowed me to let Austin volunteer more after school because I was actually home to run him to the various locations he needed to be. He loved volunteering and helping others and I’m glad I got to be there for him to do that. I was there for every single game he had this year – and Noah’s too…something I never was able to do before. I’m glad I was home at night, able to fix dinner and eat as a family, to help with homework and school projects and to just spend time together. Time is precious and never did I realize it so much until this happened.
-Family has always been important but that year we seemed to devote more time to each other. I know now it wasn’t an accident and consider all those extra memories all that more special.

Who knew life could change so fast? In an instant, my simple, ordinary, blessed life would turn upside-down. Stories still come to us of how Austin touched someone’s life and each one is a gift.  For a new year, I can only look up and move forward. There will be days when I don’t want to – and some days I may not but my hope is that most days I do. My hope is that Austin won’t be forgotten and that his memory and inspiration will live on in so many. My hope is that through my actions, he will live on in me.

Related: Moving On Is Very Different From Moving Forward

-Owning my grief and hope.  Somehow I realized early on that it would be a choice for how I would survive.  There were many days I didn’t want to but I did.  And each day I grew stronger.  How much we’ve all changed in ten years.  I no longer face the new year with fear or deep grief.  Instead, I see each passing year as an opportunity.  I’ve learned that grief and joy can coexist and that it honors Austin more to live a full life rather than one full of sorrow.


Photo: Pixabay CC

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