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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.

Sep 22, 2019

In this Episode of Always Andy's Mom, I talk with Jolynn Van Wienen and hear the story of her son, Seth. Seth was killed in 2007 when he was 10 years old. He was struck by a car while he was running across the street following a soccer game.

Jolynn's journey through her grief has been long and hard, but she again is able to feel true joy in her life. For Jolynn, it is her strong faith in God that has been able to get her through each day. She talks about the day of Seth's death being the day that he was able to see the face of Jesus. This is certainly not the outlook that I or many other parents have right now, but listening to her can help us see that maybe, someday, we will.

Seth's death led Jolynn and her husband, Greg, to try to find support services for her other children at home. They sent their children to a one day 'grief camp' where there children could talk to other hurting kids. The camp was so helpful to their kids, but it was only for one day.

They began to look for an ongoing faith-based program and found none in the Grand Rapids area. Over the next weeks and months, they felt called to found a program on their own. Starlight Ministries is a Christian organization, originally founded to help children who were grieving the death of a parent or sibling. Very quickly the ministry expanded to include adults as well. Today it is successful, growing and even expanding to a second location.

For more information on Starlight Ministries and their programming, please visit

For insights from Starlight's amazing program director, listen to Gwen Kapcia on Episode 2 of Always Andy's Mom