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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.

Apr 6, 2023

Today’s guest, Elizabeth, has learned much in the years since her 8-year-old daughter, Erin, was killed while on a hike in the mountains near Vancouver. It was three days before Christmas, and suddenly, life was destroyed. Her perfect little family of four was gone. She was left with her husband and 10-year-old son, trying to decide if Santa should still bring presents for a dead child. 
After Erin’s death, Elizabeth says that she felt like she was living in a paradox between holding on and letting go. She felt the overwhelming need to hold on to all of the memories of Erin and not allow herself to forget even little things about her. On the other hand, however, she felt that it was important to let go and not focus too much on the past so that she could live and feel joy in the present.
Over the years, Elizabeth has met many bereaved parents and learned that no one grieves in exactly the same way. We each need to understand ourselves and make decisions that are best for us personally. Some parents may want to surround themselves with their children’s pictures or belongings to help them feel close, while for others, doing so might bring more pain. Each person’s journey is their own - there is no wrong choice.
There is one thing, however, that Elizabeth has learned with certainty. ‘Loss is a part of life,’ Elizabeth says. When going through life, it is impossible to avoid suffering. How do we handle the suffering and go on living after the unthinkable has happened? That is the question that each individual has to answer for themselves.