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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 31, 2022

When applying to medical school, potential students are required to write a personal statement to accompany the application. I remember specifically what I wrote in my statement because I was in the pain of grief. I wrote that I was applying to medical school to become a doctor both because of, and in spite of, my parents' battles with cancer and my mom's recent death.

You see, without the cancer, I never would have really been exposed to the medical community. My plan in life was to become a writer or a librarian. I loved reading and always wanted to surround myself with books. After cancer entered our lives though, I became exposed to the world of medicine and I started feeling the longing to help ease the suffering of others.

However, after my mother's death, the 'in spite of' part became a reality as well. Mom did not get better. My pain after losing her was worse than anything I had experienced. As I completed my junior year of college after my mom died, I began to have doubts. Would I really be able to do this career anymore? Would the memories of my mom's illness be too much for me? Onward I went through the process, however, hoping that in the end, emotionally, I would be OK.

This reminds me so much of my faith and relationship with God after the death of Andy. WIthout my faith, I am certain that I would not have been able to get through this pain. I turn to him in my pain and suffering. I look for others to be God's hands and feet to help me. I have felt the love of God and others surround me when I am at my lowest points.

On the other hand, however, I have at times felt so alone and abandoned by God. I can feel like He betrayed me or let me down in some way. I feel disappointed by God and have often felt so angry that He would allow Andy to die and for this to be my life right now. I want to shout out against Him and turn away.

In the end though, I think my faith journey needs to continue on in the same way that my medical school journey did. I just kept on the path working through those feelings of anxiety and doubt about my future. I went to medical school and ended up not being a doctor treating suffering cancer patients, but one that focused on healthy children and families. It was better than what I could have dreamed.

Down the road, my faith certainly will not look the same as it did before Andy died, but hopefully, at some point, I will be able to look back and see that it is in fact, better and stronger than I could have ever imagined. That day is not today, certainly, but, until then, I just keep going.