A Story from Our Amanda the Panda Program: Haydyn Howland

Haydyn Howland was destined to be a big brother, and after eight years of waiting, the caring and nurturing boy’s dream came true with the birth of his little sister Adrianna.

Haydyn immediately embraced his brotherly duties - changing all of his new sister’s diapers and making sure she was taken care of. Forty-four days after Adrianna’s birth something happened that Haydyn couldn’t control: His beloved little sister died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Having a difficult time coping with his loss, Haydyn’s grandmother suggested he attend EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda grief support group.

“I was scared and I didn’t talk to anybody the first time, and then I realized it was okay to talk to someone because they help you,” Haydyn said. “I was starting to come (to Amanda the Panda) and it made me feel better and now I don’t have to cry about every two seconds.”

In addition to relating to others in the support group, Haydyn said he also learned a lot from facilitator Tyler, who taught him coping methods for his emotions.

“When I got mad and stuff, (Tyler) would always help me, he would never just leave me,” Haydyn said.

Even though Haydyn now has a baby brother to look after, he still feels the loss of his sister. With the help of EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda grief support group, he now knows Adrianna will always be a part of his life.

“Always remember her in your heart and you can just think about her and be positive about it,” Haydyn said.

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Morgan Noll.