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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.

Apr 4, 2024

When Sandy first contacted me after her son, Blake's death, I never imagined that less than 2 years later she would be sharing his story on the podcast. When Sandy wrote to me, it was only 6 weeks since Blake had died. The pain was palpable throughout her email. Her very last sentence to me read, 'This is the MOST excruciating pain ever!!'

She was filled with anger toward the doctors who failed to diagnose Blake quickly enough and see just how sick he was. Sandy says that she was in a very dark place for over a year. She posted on social media about Blake, finding others to share her pain. She would spend time with Blake's friends on his birthday and other special days, but Sandy stayed in darkness focusing on Blake's death and all that had been lost. In a way, Sandy felt comfortable in the grief. She felt that if she didn't continue to tightly hang on to the grief, she might start to forget Blake. It felt like the best way to honor Blake was to remain in her dark grief.

Amazingly, it was a near-death experience that showed her a new way. Sandy had a long history of diabetes, but after Blake died, she neglected routine doctor's visits and her diabetes went out of control. She was found by a friend unconscious in her home in a coma. She had to be intubated and placed in the ICU with failing organs. Her family was told that Sandy would not survive. Somehow, however, Sandy did survive. Doctors and nurses in the hospital all came to see the 'miracle patient' who should have never lived.

Suddenly, everything changed for Sandy. She realized that for some reason, her life was spared. It was not her time to die. She decided to rededicate her life entirely. Instead of focusing on Blake's death, Sandy worked to focus on his life. She tells his story to anyone who will listen. She talks about his amazing heart and giving nature. She educates others on tissue and organ donation. Sandy decided that for the remainder of her days, she would focus on living in the light and not the darkness. It is not grief that holds her close to Blake. It is her unchanging, amazing love for Blake that continues to keep him close.