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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.

Aug 24, 2023

Today's guest, Aga, compares her life of grief to living in a deep, dark forest. She says that she longs to see light. Occasionally, bits of light do find their way down through all of the darkness, but then, in an instant, the light disappears, and she is left in the darkness again. I love this analogy so much because it emphasizes the unpredictability of having those moments of light and how brief and fleeting they can often be.
Aga will be the first to say that she had a stressful life when her son, Maks was alive. He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and her life really revolved around getting him all of the care that he needed. There was constant anxiety. She wondered each day if she would get a call from school to come pick up Max if he was ill. Every holiday had back-up plans in case Max was sick or something else happened.
Today, almost a year and a half after Maks' death at the age of 12, Aga has none of that stress and anxiety, and she hates it. She hates that she could now go to a movie after work or travel out of town with almost no notice. Friends from the outside likely think that the 'silver lining' of her son's sudden death is that she has gained freedom in her life. For Aga though, that freedom is suffocating, and she hates it. She longs for the anxiety of her former life when she was constantly worried about Maks. She feels lost without it.
That brings me back to her amazing forest example because not only is Aga in the dark forest of grief, she is lost in the dark forest of grief. She no longer knows her purpose, has no idea where she is going, or even who she is anymore. This is why we need people to walk with us in the forest of grief. We need people who have navigated the forest for a while who will hold our hand when things get especially dark. These people will not have the answers to all of our questions, but they will stand beside us as we begin to figure out the answers for ourselves.