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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.

May 25, 2023

One of the most commonly asked questions that I get from listeners is, 'How do I help my surviving children in their grief?' and even more specifically, 'How do I help my grieving teen?' When I was contacted by Olivia's dad a few weeks ago, I initially wondered if her story was one that would resonate with my listeners. As I continued reading, however, I realized how much Olivia had to offer. She is a grieving teen. She did not lose a sibling, but she lost her mom and best friend and knows grief in a way that few teens do. I knew that we had to talk more.

Early in Olivia's grief journey, she says that she felt like everything in her life was out of control. All she wanted was to get a little bit of that control back. She did this in very unique ways. First of all, she blasted karaoke songs in her room singing at the top of her lungs. Secondly, she started dying her hair all sorts of colors. Now from the outside, Olivia admits that others probably thought that she was acting crazy and not at all dealing with her grief, but that was exactly how Olivia needed to grieve. Singing at the top of her lungs released emotion and dying her hair made her feel in control of something when her world seemed to be spinning.

The third thing that helped Olivia in her grief was writing poetry. She says that shortly after her mom died, she began suffering from horrible abdominal pain. After ruling out medical causes for her pain, Olivia was the one to realize that grief was the cause. She started noticing that as she wrote more and more, her belly pain subsided. It was then that Olivia really started thinking about how her experience might help other teens. She turned her poetry into a book that she self-published through Amazon which she titled, 'Healing Our Wounded Hearts: A real-life story about loss in the voice of a teenager.' She hopes that her words can help other teens know that they are not alone as they grieve. Olivia's honesty is so amazing and inspiring. Thank you, Olivia, for your loving heart.