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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.

Mar 11, 2020

Today on Always Andy's Mom, I talk with Shan, whose first-born son, Max, died at 15 months of age from Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy. Max was a healthy, growing boy until having his first seizure at 8 months of age. Over the next few months, they adjusted medications and appeared to have his seizures under good control. Then, suddenly, Max did not wake up from his nap one day. Shan and her husband were devastated. Their perfect, newly formed little family was destroyed.

Shan's story is especially unique because, like me, Shan is a physician. In fact, Shan is a psychiatrist completing her fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. You might think that a psychiatrist would have all the answers about grief, and would be better able to understand the grief process and what is going on more easily than the average parent. In some ways, I guess that is true. She does have more 'head knowledge' about therapy and different 'normal' thoughts than people experience with grief.

On the other hand, she was just as completely devastated as any other grieving parent. She started crying when she woke up in the morning and cried herself to sleep each night. While dealing with her own grief, however, she also had to work on finishing her psychiatric training. Shan shares with us how much she has learned in the months since Max died and how it has affected the type of psychiatrist she has become.