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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.

Mar 14, 2024

We as grieving people often feel as if we are being judged by others. If I laugh or smile, will people think I am 'over' Andy's death? Will they think I don't care or think about him anymore? If people see me sad and crying, will they think that I should be doing better? Will they judge me and think that I should be able to keep my emotions in check?

However, as much as we fear judgment from other people often we are the ones who are our biggest critics. We feel guilty if we laugh and smile. We feel shame when the tears come and emotions get out of control. When today's guest, Aleasha, talks about her early grief journey after losing her son, Jake, to a rare neurodegenerative disease called Sialic Acid Storage Disease. She says that she assumed that others were judging her in her grief. She felt that they were uncomfortable around her so she shut down and pulled away.

Aleasha shared with her therapist that she was disappointed that more people were not 'there for her' in her grief. Recently, Aleasha had the realization that others did try to walk alongside her, but she pushed them away. She felt like they weren't saying the right thing or doing the right thing, but it didn't matter what her friends said or did because it was never going to be enough. Aleasha wanted to have Jake back and obviously, no one could give her that.

This epiphany has changed Aleasha's outlook completely. It gives us an amazing lesson as well. We need to give grace and not judge ourselves when emotions come. We can feel joy, sorrow, anger, guilt, relief, and a thousand other emotions at the same time. Feeling these emotions is a part of the grief journey and they do not indicate where we are on that journey. We also learn not to project our feelings of judgment onto others. We should not presume to know what others are thinking. Our family and friends love us and want to be there for us. Their first instinct is not to judge. We need to let them show their love and see our true emotions and not be scared of what others might think.