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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 21, 2024

Recently, Gwen and I have been starting to struggle to find new topics to discuss on our Livestream episodes. Eric suggested doing an episode about how bereaved people can feel like life is out of control, especially early in grief. After Andy died, I felt like our whole world was spinning out of control. Life was suddenly going really fast and I just wanted things to slow down. The world was no longer a safe place for my family, and everything suddenly felt so scary.

As the podcast episode started this week, however, I asked Eric why he picked this topic. His answer completely surprised me. Eric recently listened to a podcast that had nothing to do with grief. In fact, this is a podcast that normally discusses economics. During the episode, the podcaster made a statement that struck Eric. He said, "You can control absolutely nothing, but you influence everything."

What a statement. That truly changes everything when you think about it. I thought that I had control of my life and my family before the accident, and lost it, but when I think about it, I never really had control in the first place. In some ways, that statement is really scary. We like to think we are in control. We like to think if we prepare enough, nothing bad will happen, but we all know that isn't true. Ultimately, we do not have control, but instead of being a scary thought, it can be freeing instead.

The key is the end of the sentence - we influence everything. Everything that we do in life, every decision that we make, influences what comes afterward. I have often told parents on the podcast who are feeling guilt related to their child's death that they did everything that they could with the information that they had at the time. They worked to influence their child's life positively, but ultimately, they did not have full control. The same can be said for decisions we make now in our grief. Don't work to gain control back because we can't get it anyway. We instead need to work to positively influence others in life, small step by small step, each and every day. This may help make tomorrow a little better than today.