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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 29, 2021

Over the past almost two years, I have interviewed dozens of bereaved parents. I have learned something from each and every one of them. All of them have done something they never thought possible after the deaths of their children. Some of these things are big, like starting a foundation or organization to help others and keep the memories of their children alive. Some have done smaller, quieter gestures. All have been brave enough to share their stories with other bereaved parents on the podcast.

This is why when Gwen and I recorded Part 1 of Meaning Making (Episode 90), we thought that we would have more people write back to us about what meaningful things they had been able to accomplish than we would have time to share them. It turns out, we were absolutely wrong. Although each one of my former guests could have written in, only one actually did. I got a total of three emails, and one of those emails was to explain why although she wanted to be one of my 'success stories,' she couldn't ever imagine actually ever climbing out of that deep dark pit of grief enough to accomplish anything meaningful.

That got me thinking, "Why did nobody write in when so many could have?" I realized something then; it is because almost nobody really feels like they have done something brave or amazing. Bereaved parents, me included, just feel like we are doing what we need to do to survive - nothing more, nothing less. We start a foundation or a podcast because our children deserve to be remembered, not because we are brave or think we have grown through the trauma.

I think of the number of times people have told me that I am strong over these past almost three years. I actually hate hearing those words. I never feel strong; I still feel like I am still just in survival mode doing what I need to do to get through. So this episode is much different than I thought it would be. Instead of celebrating victories, it reminds us that sometimes, others can see victory and be helped by us, even when personally, we still feel like we are barely hanging on.

* As a bonus today as well, I tack on a little bonus episode where I interview Bryson's doctor from Episode 87. If you remember, Dr. B had a huge impact on both Bryson and his mom. I needed to reach out and learn a little bit from his side of the story.