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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.

Jul 30, 2020

Honestly, today's interview was a sort of scary prospect for me. I don't like thinking too far into the future. Ten years, twenty years, thirty years, even the idea of having that much time without Andy in my life and as an active part of our family is too hard to think about. I am having enough trouble with the thought that almost two years have already passed. 

That's why talking to Adam's mom, Nancy, today seemed really foreign and a little bit scary. Adam died 34 years ago now - Nancy has gone on living 34 years without her son. She has spent 34 years on this grief journey. What would she say? Does she still miss Adam every day? Does she still feel the pain of grief every day? I was almost afraid to learn the answers to these questions, but I know as time goes on, it is important to start to look at this in a little more of the long term. Life is continuing to move on, and I will have to move with it.

Listening to Nancy gave me a lot of comfort. Yes, she still does miss Adam every day, and yes, she still feels the grief. Today, however, the pain is not quite as sharp as it once was. She says that during the first years, she felt like she was living in the emergency room, and now, it feels like she has learned to live with an amputation. 

I think the most comforting thing that she shared was that she has learned to live life more in a circle instead of in a straight line. When you live life in a straight line, you tend to think about getting past something or getting through something. It puts a lot of pressure on that you have to get things right and not mess it up. If you think of living life in a circle, however, you may come back to the same thoughts or experiences again and again. That is so reassuring to me. It allows me to think that I can do a little work on this now and then come back to it and work on it a little more later.

I don't need to get through it all right now. I don't need to wait and finish this one part of my grief journey before I more on to something else. I can move on and go somewhere else and know that I can come back and face today's struggle later, maybe when I am feeling a bit stronger or have a little more life experience to deal with it. I am so thankful to know that I can now live life in a series of loops instead of in a straight line.