In times of loss, community can share mothers' grief

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Lynne Cope Hummell

Before you start reading this, please note that it was written a few days before Mother's Day, and I know full well you are reading it at least two days after the fact.

It is still about mothers.

I haven't been lazy or forgetful about timing. I have, however, been compelled by a recent event to share some thoughts about mothers.

Our community suffered another tragic loss this past week. A young man, 21-year-old Austin McLoud, a rising college senior, died in a single-car crash on Sunday, May 7. The driver of the car, his good friend, faces felony DUI charges.

Our household first heard the news from a neighbor. Both boys (yes, I know they were technically adults) were friends with several guys on our street, including my own son.

As the details of the crash became known, my heart grew heavier. My thoughts kept coming back to both of the boys' mothers. I wept for them. I prayed for them. What anguish they must be feeling, how unimaginably deep the pain and the hurt in their very souls.

How can one carry on after something like this? Where will they find the strength? How in the world will they be able to celebrate Mother's Day, the very next Sunday?

Then I remembered the families - the boys' fathers, their siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins - who are grieving and in pain alongside them. The network of caring stretches out to friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even people like me, who knows one mother from working together eons ago, and the other just from a coffee shop.

As the days went on, I couldn't get these two mothers out of my mind and heart. I wanted to reach out to them, to do something, but how? What could I possibly offer that would help anything?

My son is deeply saddened by the loss of his friend, and I know how much I hurt for him. What about these moms, who have other children to care for too?

This is something I can't begin to comprehend - no mother can unless she has endured such a life-changing experience.

And then I thought about other mothers who have been devastated by tragic losses. In our community, we have learned of far too many in the past few years. I thought of the mothers of those who might be responsible for those deaths. I thought of the mothers who have lost children to other causes, from stillbirth to cancer to suicide.

What is Mother's Day like for any of these women? Again, I cannot comprehend. All I can do is care.

Mothers - and fathers - are mere mortals and we can't protect our children from everything they will face in life. We can't wrap them in a protective bubble, we can't watch them 24 hours a day. We can only teach them the best we can, love them, and hope they learn what's important. The rest is in God's hands.

Austin's mom and Jack's mom have an incredibly rough road ahead, but I hope and pray they both will find strength and courage to continue to live their lives.

I'd like to share something I learned to be true years ago, after the passing of my younger brother: Grief shared is divided, while love shared is multiplied.

We are your community. We grieve with you. We care.

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