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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.

May 4, 2023

When listening to today's episode, you will likely not believe the number of times the word 'hope' is spoken. From the very first day that Jimmy's 22-year-old son, Lee, was killed in a car accident 16 years ago, Jimmy has clung to hope. Initially, that hope was given to him by another bereaved father who stayed with him in his home after Lee died. He said that although Jimmy could not feel it at that moment, the pain would not always be so intense and that his family would experience joy again. This was Jimmy's first glimpse of hope.
In the coming months and years, Jimmy's grief was intense. There were days when he did not think he could survive the pain, but that little glimmer of hope remained. His faith never abandoned him, and he would constantly remind himself of Psalm 118:24 - This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Each day, he would make the decision to choose joy. This did not mean that he did not grieve deeply. Jimmy cried daily and would allow the waves of grief to come. After those periods of deep mourning, however, he would feel just a bit better. 
Over time, that hope grew stronger and the joyful moments became more frequent. Jimmy relates that years after Lee's death, their first grandchild was born. He remembers looking into his wife's eyes that day and seeing pure joy resonating there for the first time since the accident. It had taken years, but it was there. That does not mean that Jimmy has left his grief behind. It is always right there with him. He even apologized before we started recording, telling me that he would not be able to tell Lee's story without tears.
That's what makes Jimmy's words so precious to me. If Jimmy were to tell me just to feel joy and forget about the pain, I would have cast him aside. If he had told me to cling to my grief and never feel joy again, I would not be able to feel any hope for the future. Jimmy, however, allows us to experience both. His parting words to me today were, 'There is hope for joy in your life again. Hold on to hope. Don't give up.'