It’s Mother’s Day and it’s time to celebrate the woman who gave you life. Or you’re a mom and it’s the day you bask in the love of your children. You should be happy, right? Not necessarily. For those whose mothers have passed away or for moms who have lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a time of sadness and grief. However, there is hope. Read how one mother whose daughter died on Mother’s Day moved from mourning to peace.
I interviewed my mom, Eunice Smith of Jackson, MS, to discover how she handled the death of my sister and her daughter so well. I saw my mother go through the grieving process with grace and a strength that could only come from God. Here’s what she had to say…
What was it like to lose your child on Mother’s Day? My initial reaction was shock. I was the first to find her; she was in her bedroom when I got home from church on Mother’s Day (about 11 years ago). She was just lying there as if taking a nap, but she had an aneurism in her brain while we were at church and died. She was living with us because she was recovering from a mental breakdown that I believe was caused by the extreme stress and discrimination she experienced while in medical school a couple of years earlier. After a period of hospitalization and treatment, she seemed to be getting better. My daughter, Lynda, was only 36-years-old and it was very unexpected. I never had a chance to break down and cry in those first few hours (although I wanted to) because family and friends came to the house immediately and stayed… and stayed…and stayed until late in the evening. The next days were filled with making arrangements and that also distracted me from grieving initially.
How did you cope with grief after the funeral? I began to pray and ask God for strength to deal with her death very early on. A couple of friends recommended that I take a valium or sleeping pills to help cope with the funeral and the insomnia that sometimes follows the loss of a loved one. But, I was very wary of taking anything just because of the addictive nature of those medications. I felt more comfortable with trusting God to get me through. In the days, weeks and months following the funeral I would find myself crying at various times (often unexpectedly) like when I was driving or walking through the house or when the time came to sort through her things. It was comforting to share some of her belongings with family and friends. I gave away some of her favorite things, such as a hat or jacket, et cetera to the people who loved her.
Does it get better with time? Yes. At first it was very difficult because we didn’t even know how she died. We had an autopsy performed later, which concluded that her death was the result of an aneurism. Although I still have some unanswered questions for God like, “Why did this happen to her?’ and “Why didn’t you heal her so she could live a long life?” I was never angry at God. My anger was always more directed at the people who I believed caused her initial mental breakdown. I still struggle with forgiving them, although I know that the Word of God says we must forgive. I remember the first Mother’s Day after her death was especially hard. I didn’t go to church that Sunday because I didn’t think I could sit through the service and watch all the other mothers with their children without falling apart. But, now I rarely experience sadness when I think of her,
I remember her at her peak. Lynda was bubbly, smart, energetic and beautiful. She was always popular and kind. She had a very gentle nature. I have many pictures of her around the house to help us remember her and I am always willing to talk about her. When anyone asks about my children, I still say that I have four daughters (not just the three living) and I name them all. Now I celebrate her life usually twice a year by visiting her gravesite–once on her birthday and again on Mother’s Day. I know she had a relationship with Jesus Christ and I know she is with him in heaven and that makes me happy for her–knowing that she is fully restored and whole now.
Your own mother also passed away recently, how does her death affect you on Mother’s Day? Although I miss my mother, I feel no sadness surrounding her death. It was very different from that of my daughter. For one thing, Drusie Bell Trass lived a long, productive life–my mother lived to be 97 years old. Plus, I was able to spend a lot of time with her before she died. She lived much longer than her husband and many of her friends; she even outlived some of her children. I knew from conversations with her that she was ready to go to heaven.
What’s the most important thing your mother taught you? My mother was very big on keeping promises. That is the one principle that stands out very clearly in my mind when I think of her. She always told us to do whatever we promised that we would do–especially when that promise is made to a child. She was adamant about honoring her word. She also stressed the value of helping others. My mother would have us children to play this game called “Stick to the Union” and she made up a little song to go along with it. When we would do our chores, the game was to go help someone else as soon as you were finished with yours. The principle we learned from the game was that as long as someone else has work to do, we have work to do–everyone should work together until everything is finished.