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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.

Sep 1, 2022

Without a doubt, the most common questions that I am asked by bereaved mothers concern understanding the men in their lives. Whether it is a husband, an ex-husband, or even teenage sons, women can have trouble understanding how men grieve. Men tend to grieve differently than women. Today, Gwen and I delve into the subject more deeply.

Recently, Gwen was at a Compassionate Friends conference listening to a bereaved father speak on the difference between grieving mothers and fathers. He said that women tend to ‘bee hive’ while men will ‘man cave.’ I know that I personally need to be around others in my grief. If I am alone and isolate, I can feel overwhelmed in my grief. I wallow in sadness. I definitely feel better when when I open up with others, especially with other bereaved parents.

Many men, on the other hand, tend to hold their feelings a bit closer to the chest. Those men may actually feel better when they are alone with their thoughts and feelings, perhaps doing a job or an activity. This can be hard - both men and women may feel that when men want to be alone and not talk openly, they are grieving in the ‘wrong’ way. It is not inherently wrong, however - it is just different and absolutely normal.

There are so many ways to grieve, and the differences between men and women can make It hard for us to understand each other. What works for a woman may not be at all helpful for a man and vice versa. The most important thing to remember as we grieve is that we cannot judge each other. We need to instead communicate openly and be patient.