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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 23, 2024

Today's guest, Jason, has always felt a bit unique as a dad. Early in their marriage, Jason and his wife decided that when they had children, he would be the stay-at-home parent. I was actually surprised to learn that 1 in 5 stay-at-home parents are now stay-at-home dads. What makes Jason's story more unique, however, is that both of his children had special needs. When someone is the primary caregiver of a special needs child, it often becomes a huge part of their identity so when their child dies, a part of them feels like it dies as well.
When Jason's son, Zachary, unexpectedly died of sepsis, Jason suddenly felt alone. Like many of the moms of special needs children whom I have interviewed over the past year, Jason felt very isolated. Jason turned to social media to find others who were suffering the same pain and grief. He longed to find other dads to talk with, but couldn't seem to find any. He became involved in many Facebook groups and found that he would be one of the only men who would regularly contribute.
On the advice of a therapist, Jason began to write out his feelings. They were raw and unfiltered letters to his son, Zachery. He imagined that someday he would simply throw them out, but instead decided to ask to post them on a bereaved parent's Facebook page. The feedback he received was so overwhelming that he eventually decided to make his own social media accounts. He entitled his Facebook page 'Letters to Zachary.'
Jason's 'Letters to Zachary' Facebook page now has almost 1000 followers. He says that his purpose is two-fold. First, he wants to show other bereaved dads that it is not only ok but good to open up and share the feelings that they have related to grief and loss. The second purpose is to give women some insight into the mind of a bereaved dad. He hopes that his sharing may help women understand the grieving men in their lives just a little bit better. Hopefully, the discussions that Jason starts can help couples better understand each other as they grieve together.