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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.

Oct 24, 2019

On this episode of Losing A Child: Always Andy's Mom, I talk with Brooke's mom, Judy Breen. Unlike most of my previous guests, Judy's daughter, Brooke, died as an adult in her 30's. She was married with three children of her own. I admit that initially I felt jealous of Judy and other parents who lost their children when they were grown and out of the house, but I now realize that this comes with its own set of problems that I will never face.

Although I will never have Andy's children to be able to love and see him through, I will also never have the fear of losing them. I will not be afraid that at some point in time, they could be taken by their living parent and never see me again. That is a very real fear for many people. Although Judy does still get to see her grandchildren, I can certainly feel that fear in her and in many others who are in worse circumstances.

Watching one's son or daughter-in-law start dating again and perhaps even re-marrying brings another set of emotions. Although most bereaved parents want them to find happiness again, it is so difficult to see a situation where your precious child is almost replaced by another person. Even more difficult is if the grandchildren now call this person mom or dad. It is a delicate balance between wanting the children to lead a normal life, and wanting them to remember the parent who has died.

One thing that I admire so much about Judy is her ability to communicate what she needs to others. I know that I personally have found that difficult, but for her it seems more natural. She asks for specific help when she needs it and is there to offer advice to others as well.

After Andy died last year, one of my very good friends, Sara, went to Judy and asked her what she could do for me. Judy's advice was to just be present for me and to never stop saying his name. Sara took that advice and has been one of only a few people who will always say his name out loud to me without any fear or apprehension. She also does caring little gestures like leaving me a small plant or a tiny birthday cake at my door. Those mean so much to me.

Until I met Judy a few months ago, I did not know how she had actually been able to impact my life in that way. This is yet another goal of this podcast. Those caring sentences from Judy to Sara 14 months ago, made a big impact on my life and healing. If others can glean a few words of wisdom from each of my guests, imagine how much healing can follow!