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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 29, 2022

Jenny’s son, Sam, was a kid who lived in the moment. He loved life, and he enjoyed every second of it. Even as he was dying from a brain tumor, Sam continued to love life and live big. As others approached the family with apprehension or avoided them entirely, Sam still smiled and jumped and played. Even when he couldn’t jump and play anymore, he still enjoyed lying on his mother’s lap, and just spending time with his dear family. He still loved at 100%. He didn’t live as others expected him to live.

Today, his mom is on a quest. Just as Sam did not ‘fit that narrative’ as to what a kid with a brain tumor was ‘supposed’ to look like, Jenny doesn’t want society to dictate how she and other grieving parents should live.  She says that sometimes she wishes that she had a ‘feeling machine’ that she could hook people up to for just a few moments so they could live in our shoes and feel what we feel. She certainly does not want others to experience child loss, but if they felt this way for just a few minutes, they would likely not judge us so much.

There is definitely no time limit on grief. I know that I have gotten to the point where I hesitate to tell people that it has been 4 years since Andy died. If I am sad and having a horrible day really missing Andy, I don’t tell people that it has been four years since his death. I have gotten to the point where I don’t even want them to ask. I feel almost embarrassed that I am not ‘better’ than this. I fear that they will judge me, labeling me as ‘not doing well.’

Jenny’s goal is not to change us or somehow help us to get through our grief quicker or easier. She wants us as grieving parents to unite together and teach society that grief is a normal part of loving and living. Grief is not something to be fixed. She has entitled her new organization, Maverick Grief. On her website, Jenny writes, ‘Grief is not a problem to be resolved. Grief is not a mental illness or an ailment to recover from and nor is it a linear condition that travels through an upward trajectory to a definitive end. To deny the human experience of grief is to deny the existence, depth, and worth of love. These two most powerful forces are the foundation of humanity. They co-exist and are at the epicentre of the human living condition. Grief IS love.' I couldn’t agree more.