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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 22, 2022

Four years into my grief journey, I continue to witness how people grieve in vastly different ways. As grieving parents, you might think the grief would look much the same, but it does not. There may be some underlying similarities, but from the outside, it can look as different as night and day.

Today’s guest, Laurie, had worked as a therapist for many years before her son, Adam, died from an accidental drug overdose in college. You might think that she would know ‘all of the answers’ about grief - that she would have been so in tune with her own emotions, that she would somehow find grieving to be ‘easier,’ but that was not the case. 

Laurie said that she actually found that she was completely numb after Adam died. She couldn’t really feel her emotions, and she was unable to truly grieve. From the outside, Laurie certainly looked like she had it all together. She returned to work seeing patients only 10 days after Adam’s death. I’m sure she continued to be a great therapist, helping many adolescents through their struggles, but internally, she remained frozen.

Then, ever so slowly over many, many months, Laurie says that she began to ‘thaw’. She began to feel the pain more fully. She truly started to grieve. Now, from the outside, people may think that she wasn’t grieving in the ‘right’ way, but for her, it was perfect. That first year wasn’t a waste; it just took that long for her brain to process her life to get to a point when grieving was possible. 

That is an amazing lesson for all of us. Don’t beat yourself up that you aren’t grieving right. Don’t let others judge your grief or judge others in their grief. The process is different for everyone, and what feels right for me may not work for you. Timing and feelings are different for each person.