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Griefspeak – Mother’s Day for Motherless Children

By: Mari Dias

Mother’s Day is upon us, a day filled with celebration or grief. It was 1927 when Blind Willie Johnson recorded the song “Motherless Children”, which was made popular by many, including Bob Dylan, Steven Miller, and Eric Clapton. The lyrics recognize that all children are impacted by the death of their mother.

Fast forward to 1997, when Hope Edelman published her groundbreaking book “Motherless Daughters”, which emphasizes the unique relationship between daughters and mothers – “a daughter’s life is irrevocably altered; that this one fact forever changes who she is and who she will be. Gone is the caregiver, teacher, adversary, role model, and guide to being a woman.”

Rhode Island’s own Ann Hood recently published an essay in AGNI entitled “Stop Breath” about her relationship and death of her mom, Gogo. This essay, rife with losses, provides a poignant, personal insight into a mother/daughter relationship. The loss of Gogo feels like the loss of every woman’s mother as the reader grieves not only for Gogo, but for their own mom. Yet reading Hood’s essay encourages the reader to remember the small things, the intimate, everyday details of our lives with mom.

Research tends to focus on the relationship between mothers and daughters primarily during childhood, as it is a crucial stage of development. In addition, same gender parents seem to have the biggest impact on children. In 1991 Virginia Apperson, a Jungian analyst wrote an article entitled “Motherless Children” revisiting the impact of the loss on all children as did the lyrics of 1927.

To all motherless children of all ages: As you place flowers on the gravesite of your mom, remember the small things. Remember her smell, the sound of her laugh, her quirky phrases, and the taste of her cooking. And for those who recently became motherless during this pandemic, I share your pain and wish I could hold it in the palm of my hand to lighten the weight of your grief, if only for a short time. Grief is like a mountain. Some may attempt to go around it, some to climb over it; however, as painful as it is, we must learn to go through it, burrowing a tunnel as we struggle to breathe. We will find ways to come out the other side, and eventually remember her smell, the sound of her laugh, her quirky phrases, and the taste of her cooking