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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.

Jun 8, 2023

Each week, I usually find one main takeaway point from the podcast episode. After talking with Chris though, I learned two key things. As much as I tried to get it down to one point, I couldn't leave one out. They were both equally important.

The first lesson Chris learned many years before she even had Becca, she was in the Pediatric ICU with one of the cardiac children that her family fostered from Korea. While there, Chris witnessed a family with a perfectly healthy child who went in for what was supposed to be a very simple medical procedure that resulted in many complications eventually leading to severe, irreversible brain damage. As Chris sat witnessing this horror, she found herself asking the question, 'Why?" As she pondered, Chris realized that she would never be able to answer that question and that it was not worth her time to even ask it. This was tremendously helpful to Chris later in life when raising many children with congenital heart disease, and even more so, after she lost her sweet daughter, Becca.

The second lesson that Chris learned was much further into her grief journey. Chris found that in these last few years without Becca, she was becoming tired of her grief, and maybe even a little angry with grief. She felt like grief was her enemy, affecting her life negatively. She then had a profound thought. She had heard many people say over the years that grief is love. This definitely felt like a true statement. Certainly, the reason that she grieved her daughter so much was because of her overwhelming love for Becca. Chris thought, 'If grief is a manifestation of this love, then maybe grief misses Becca, too. Maybe grief shouldn't be my enemy. Maybe grief can be my friend.' 

What a life-changing realization. Now, the challenges that I am giving to myself are to: 
1.) Stop asking 'why' all of this has happened to Andy and my family, and
2.) Think of my grief as a 'friend' to keep beside me, not an enemy to hold at bay.