Bluffton mom learns how to deal with grief after death of son

abredeson@islandpacket.comNovember 5, 2012 

Bluffton mom Amber White with her 8-year-old son, Sam

BY JAY KARR/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE

Features writer Amy Bredeson writes about Lowcountry moms who have advice to share. Email her at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Name: Amber White

Husband: Tim

Town: Bluffton

Children: Sam, 8; and Luke, deceased. The Whites' son Luke died at just 24 days old. When people ask how many children she has, Amber says two because she feels that is the truth. She said she used to say one but felt too guilty not mentioning her second child.

Occupation: Hair stylist at Blades of Hilton Head Hair & Nail Salon but plans to open her own salon in January in Bluffton

Volunteer work: President of the Parent Teacher Organization at Michael C. Riley Elementary School. "I got dragged. One of my friends asked me if I was planning to sign up to be on the PTO, and I said yes. And next thing I knew, I was on the board, and my son was a kindergartner in school. I really enjoy being a part of the school. It made it easier to leave my son (at school). ... So here I am. And this is the second year as PTO president."

Favorite mommy moment: "All of them. But if I have to name one, laying in bed reading to Sam. We've done it every night of his life."

Go-to dinner: "Fiesta Fresh is a staple dinner on our diet. We eat there at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. I'm trying to do better. I've become an avid Pinterest person (Pinterest is a social media site that allows people to "pin" images of creative ideas to their virtual pinboards.), so I have a huge board now with all these different recipes, and I try to do at least two a week."

Biggest struggle: "Taking time for me."

Stress reliever: "I always have a book."

Most challenging mommy moment: "Dealing with the loss of Luke and dealing with the life of Luke. Luke was born at 26 weeks. ... That was a challenge, just the fear. He was so tiny. His head was the size of pool ball. I could hold him in my hand. And I was scared to death of him. And I was scared to death for him. But then he started doing really well. We had hope. I guess I always had hope that he would survive, pull through. People would tell me, 'Don't get your hopes up too high.' But that's just who I am. ... I didn't want to think about what bad could happen. I wanted to think about the good that could happen, and then I'd deal with the bad. If it were not for Sam, I don't know that I would've turned it around the way I have. He forced me to laugh and live, to get up every day and just be a part of life. And I remember the first time I laughed after we lost Luke, and I felt so guilty. It felt wrong. How do you laugh after your other child has died? But you have to think, 'What kind of parent does Sam need? What kind of parent do I want to be for Sam?'"

Advice for other grieving parents: "You're not alone. That's the biggest thing. When you go through something like that, you feel so alone because most of the time you've never met anyone else who's gone through it. ... There's people out there that have gone through the same thing or something very similar. They may not be in your town, but there are places on the Internet that you can meet other women who can offer support and understanding. And I think that's the biggest thing because friends don't know what to say. Nobody knows what to say. But if you've met somebody who's gone through it, even though they don't know what to say or they may say something that isn't quite what your friends would say, they get it. ... Reach out to people. As hard as it is, ask for help, whether it be a meal or a shoulder to cry on. Let your friends surround you and take care of you."

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