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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 22, 2021

Imagine for just a moment that you are on a long-planned 'girls trip' to Las Vegas for a fun weekend with 10 of your closest friends from college. It is a time you've been looking forward to for weeks, planned and re-planned, coordinating everyone's individual schedules to fly across the country and arrive at about the same time. Imagine now, that you wake up in your hotel room early that first morning to your phone ringing. It is your husband, crying on the other end of the phone, making the hardest call he has ever had to make in his life.

Your only child, your precious 4 year old daughter, without any warning, died in her sleep the night before. The screaming starts then, the guttural noises that you'd never imagine that could come out of you. For today's guest, Aimee, this was not a bad dream; this was real life, and somehow, it was her life. She says that in the midst of the nightmare that day though, she truly saw the goodness of people, working to get her back to Virginia Beach as quickly and easily as possible.

In the days and weeks after the death of her daughter, Eliza, Aimee found a strength that she never knew that she had. Days after Eliza's death, she began to have the dream of starting a foundation in Eliza's name. This foundation would offer support to families of children like Eliza who suffered from autism. It would offer every type of therapy those children need as well as hope and support for their parents after receiving this life-changing diagnosis.

Amazingly, the Eliza Hope Therapy Center opened its doors 1 1/2 years after Eliza's death. Today, the center does exactly what Aimee hoped it would when she first imagined it five years ago. They now see 150 children a week and offer hope to 4-5 new families each week as well. From the depths of grief and tragedy, something truly amazing was born. Eliza lives on through the foundation giving so much happiness to other families.