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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.

Jun 13, 2024

When listener, Carolyn, sent us a list of topics that she thought would be great for our Livestream chats, several stood out to us as great ideas. The first one we decided to tackle concerned the Work of Grief and even more specifically having an annual grief plan in place. To be honest, the idea of a grief plan both intrigued me and gave me anxiety. I feared that if I found myself unable to follow the plan, I would feel like I had failed and I worried that I would feel worse instead of better. 

After Carolyn listened Monday night, she wrote back to me giving me even more to think about. Carolyn wrote, 'My Annual Grief Plan is a dynamic document. I set goals and adjust them along the way. It changes every year. I don't feel like a failure because grief is unpredictable. I helps me to continue to move forward with love for Jimmy.' She went on to write that she had worked on her grief plan recently. Her plan has four categories: Grief, Spiritual, Health and Friends. One of her goals for this year was to start a memorial garden (see picture on website). Other goals included changes in her diet and acknowledging changes in friendships.

Listening to the podcast again and reading that email got me to think about my own grief plans. I wonder if writing them down in this way would help me achieve more in my grief so I am deciding to give it a try.

1. Grief - Co-host my first grief retreat. Explore what future retreats might look like.
2. Spiritual - Increase my trust in God by being more intentional with prayer.
3. Health - Improve diet and exercise daily.
4. Friends - Go out socially with friends at least once per month.

Well, there it is for the world to see. My current annual plan. Its not complicated, but hopefully having specific goals will help my focus. A few months from now, I will be able to look back and see where I am, knowing that my plan too, is a dynamic document. As I revisit the plan in 2025, it will almost certainly change, but not because I have failed in some way. It will change because my grief will change and as my grief changes, I will as well. Thank you, Carolyn, for your inspiration.