Debbie – Canada

I was energized by the weekend. I laughed more in the 44 hours I was in San Diego that I have since Austin died almost 17 months ago. I also cried in each of the four sessions I attended. The tears were for my sons, for me, for friends, for people I didn't know who were sharing some of their grief journey. I came home exhausted and quiet, giving myself time to reflect on what the weekend meant in my life. And I've come to the conclusion that all the laughter, tears and friendship were very cleansing for my soul. They reintroduced me to myself, the Debbie I was before Austin died. She's been gone for almost 17 months. But I saw and heard glimpses of her this weekend. And that has reminded me that I'm still here somewhere. I'm forever changed by Austin's death and the person he loved so well has found it hard to exist without him. But this weekend made me realize two things. First, the best way I can honour Austin and our love is to allow myself to really live again, in whatever way I can figure out how to do that. And second, I need to take better care of myself and put myself first. Because if I'm not taking care of me, I won't be able to do a good job of taking care of our sons. I know Austin would absolutely want that for me, for us. And so I'm starting today to put myself at the top of list.