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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.

May 16, 2024

When today's guest, Heather, lost her precious 4-year-old son, Jake, 13 years ago, her life was turned upside-down. Jake (or Jakey as he was often called) was medically fragile and suffered from chronic seizures, as well as additional medical complications, but Heather never allowed herself to think that he would die. Heather left her job as a special ed teacher and dedicated her life to making Jake's life the best it could be. Shortly after Jake died, Heather and her family realized that not everyone had the resources and skills to help their own medically complex kids. They started a non-profit organization called Jake's Help from Heaven. The nonprofit works with families to provide items not covered by insurance that will give them opportunities to thrive. Some items are big and life-changing and others are quite small, but their goal is to come from a 'place of yes' to help every family possible.
As rewarding as the organization has been, Heather found that much of her time had to be dedicated to planning fundraising events instead of spending time with the families. This made Heather begin to think about trying to do things differently. What if instead of sponsoring numerous events throughout the year, they simply asked their donors for money and used their time and energy to tell stories instead? These stories have become 'The Place of Yes' podcast. Some of these stories are about Jake and their family and others are about the families Jake's Help from Heaven had assisted. Still others are about people living in grief each day. All of these stories, however, are about people using their grief for good.
When Heather thought about having to move forward after the devastating loss of Jake, she discovered this about herself. She says on her podcast, "All I can say is, you can dig deep, figure out where you are, and figure out where you want to be, and for me, I found the answer was in a place of yes." She longs to make the world a better place for chronically ill children and now for grieving families as well. Through the nonprofit, and now the podcast, I know that she will do just that.