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Parents at a Loss - James Andersen and Janet Congero

During an exercise to draw feelings associated with their child's death, Janet Congero colors in an outline of her hand. Congero didn't want to participate in the exercise at first, but eventually took part in the Compassionate Friends support group activity.

Photo by GREG KAHN

During an exercise to draw feelings associated with their child's death, Janet Congero colors in an outline of her hand. Congero didn't want to participate in the exercise at first, but eventually took part in the Compassionate Friends support group activity.

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  • Parents at a loss.

It is said the greatest loss is when a parent loses a child. In the United States, it is expected that nearly 150,000 infants, children, teenagers, and young adults will die this year. Even years after a child's death, parents still struggle to come to grips with what happened. 


A collage of photos of Rylee Andersen with her parents at a fundraiser in her name. Rylee was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease in May 2009 and died less than a year later. 'Time stopped. Time stopped that day,' Janet Congero, Rylee's mother said.
  • Janet Congero fights back tears during a church mass in Fort Myers. 'I have a love hate relationship with Church, because He has my child,' Congero said.
  • James Andersen, center, and Janet Congero, left, entertain family and friends during a memorial dinner to celebrate the life of their daughter Rylee, who passed away a year prior.
  • James Andersen, left, and wife Janet Congero, right, watch as balloons with messages to their late daughter, Rylee, written on them, float upward during a memorial gathering to celebrate Rylee's life.
  • Dozens of balloons float away during a memorial dinner to celebrate the life of Rylee Andersen.
  • Before bed, Janet Congero reads with her son Andrew Andersen in his room at their home in Fort Myers.
  • James Andersen, left, and wife Janet Congero, right, write messages on balloons before they are released during a memorial dinner to mark the one-year anniversary of their daughter, Rylee's, death.
  • During an exercise to draw feelings associated with their child's death, Janet Congero colors in an outline of her hand. Congero didn't want to participate in the exercise at first, but eventually took part in the Compassionate Friends support group activity.
  • Andrew Andersen is comforted by his mother Janet Congero. In addition to coping with their daughter's death, they said they also have to worry about their son's mental health and how he comes to terms with losing a sister.
  • James Andersen, left, and wife Janet Congero, right, watch as balloons with messages to their late daughter, Rylee, written on them, float upward during a memorial gathering to celebrate Rylee's life.

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