We were left with the painstaking decision to remove him from life support. On the evening of May 31, 2015, as I laid curled up next to Cole in his hospital bed, his body was truly healed and his body made whole in Heaven.
Needless to say, that week was filled with some very traumatic moments for his 2 younger brothers, myself and our family.
And so, our complicated journey of grief began.
By no means has this been an easy process. It's truly been gut-wrenching, emotionally paralyzing and painful. I know it's going to be a life-long process. However, our pain has been eased this past year with the help of three main things: (1) our relationship with Christ; (2) having a steady support system; and, (3) having access to counseling sessions from a counselor experienced in grief and trauma.
Throughout this journey, I have tried to be transparent and pass on as many insights I can as to what I am learning to others, mainly through writing. It’s been self-healing, and I've discovered it's been helpful and encouraging to others as well. Social media has been huge in this aspect and has brought many hurting, grieving people in my direction. It’s made me aware that there is SO much hurt in this community. Me, being me, I would like to ideally save the world and take them all under my wing! However, I realize I’m just one person - and am a working, single - and very much still grieving - mother. Referring people to my counselor has been one of the more tangible ways I’ve been able to help, while still keeping my emotional boundaries in check.
Some people I refer to my counselor are able to afford services. However, due to financial constraints, several are not. For some it's a lack of insurance, some are still paying off medical bills or funeral expenses, and some are just barely making it by.
It became heavy on my heart to find a way to make it possible for those who couldn't afford counseling services to be able to get the adequate care they needed. Thus, Cole's Grace Project began.
Perhaps you are one of those hurting people right now. You may be feeling helpless, and at the end of your rope. I'm here saying, "I get you". But trust me when I say, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you're hesitant to talk to a counselor, I encourage you to try to do so. You've got nothing to lose except an hour of your time.
If your loved one was anything like my son, Cole, then chances are they wouldn't want you feeling the way you do right now. The pain of losing someone we love never goes away, but it can begin to be tolerable.
It would be my honor to have Cole's Grace Project help you along your journey.
From Rachel Austin, Cole's Mom:
The backstory (or heartbeat as I prefer to think of it) behind this project started last year.
On May 24, 2015, my life forever changed. I walked into Cole's bedroom, my 15-year-old son, to tell him his dad was on the phone. I found him lifeless, hanging in his closet.
This came as a total shock to all that knew my son, Cole. He, by no means, fit the description of a depressed, suicidal teen. He was a star athlete, well liked, a GT student with a crazy awesome sense of wit and a joy to be around.
The police were called, my neighbor and I struggled to get him down, and began CPR. At the ER, they were able to get his heart beating again and he was life-flighted to Lubbock. He was there for a week, we prayed his brain swelling to go down, but it became clear as days passed there was very little brain activity. The test results kept getting harder to hear as the days progressed. We hoped and prayed for healing.