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Losing a Child: Always Andy's Mom

As a pediatrician, married mom of three biological children and one foster son, my life was busy, rushing off to my office four days a week, seeing patients for three and working as a medical director of a local physician organization for one. I balanced this with rushing off to shuttle my kids to after sports and other after school activities. All of this changed one day in August of 2018 when my 14 year old son, Andy, was killed in a car accident. I felt like my life was over, and in some ways it was over, and a new life was forced to begin in its place. 

Grief is seldom discussed openly in our culture, and the death of a child makes people feel even more uncomfortable. On this blog and podcast, ‘Losing a Child: Always Andy’s Mom’, the topic is approached openly and honestly, speaking to people who have lost loved ones and experts who help care for them. Whether you are a parent experiencing loss or someone who wants to support another going through this tragedy, this blog and podcast strives to offer hope and help.

Mar 24, 2022

Tenacious. When listening to today's guest, Nancy, talk about her precious daughter, Jessica, the word that immediately comes to my mind is tenacious. No matter what life threw her way, Jessica continued to fight and even thrive. Despite being born with congenital heart disease requiring multiple surgeries resulting in many complications, she just kept going. Jessica loved life and would talk and talk until she quite literally turned blue and her family would say, "Jessie, slow down a minute. You are turning blue."

In the mid-1990's, as Nancy was learning more and more about congenital heart disease, she felt drawn to find other parents going through similar struggles and offer comfort and support to them. Initially, this came in the way of a listserve where people would write emails sharing their stories with each other. Through this experience, Nancy formed many friendships, including friendships with Michael (Episode 122) and Anna. In fact, Michael talks about how when his daughter, Liel, died, it was Nancy (although she lived on the other side of the world) who was able to give him comfort during those first days.

Although Jessica lived until she was 22 years old, she never developed higher than the level of about an 8 year old. Today, Nancy talks about the beautiful memories that they have of Jessica and even of those last weeks of her life when they were helping her to prepare her and answer her questions about heaven. These are beautiful stories that are inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

Nancy says that in life, Jessica would say that she always needed her mommy. Now, in death, Nancy still feels Jessica with her constantly whether it is by seeing unexpected butterflies or other little signs. Jessica always taught her in life and now Nancy is continuing Jessica's work by spreading help and healing to bereaved parents everywhere.

Nancy helps in this work by being a producer (along with Anna and host, Michael) of the Bereaved, but Still Me podcast. If you didn't listen after hearing Michael, start now! It may actually mean even more now that you know of the stories of not one, but two girls whose lives inspired their parents to start a podcast.