During the month of May, we celebrate Mother's Day which is a very painful day for mothers who are grieving the death of a child or for those people who are grieving the death of a mother or a grandmother. The day brings back the fact that someone they loved very much is missing...on this special day. There is a great void...The day (is) all the harder to experience because either the honoree if missing or the child of the honoree is missing. There is no need to purchase a card for a mother or grandmother, or there is a card missing from that child on Mother's Day.
It is important to realize that because someone has died is no reason that survivors stop loving that person. They are gone from this life, but they continue to be a part of a family and a family system. They continue to be loved by those people who survive. That is what this day is all about.
We show our love for mothers and grandmothers whether they are here or not. Mothers who are grieving the loss of a child continue to love all their children--even those who have left this life. On Mother's Day, we should concentrate on the love aspect of the day and not the fact that a loved one is not here. A person whom we loved in this life has departed and this departure has caused great sadness, but we continue to love them even in death. Their death can never cause us to stop loving them. Our love for them is different because their presence is different, but the love transcends the difference.
There is no doubt that we are saddened when someone what we love in this life died. I am suggesting that we concentrate more on the love that we shared with these people because we continue to love them. This love can never be taken away. The person has left us in life, but love continues. I am suggesting that this Mother's Day, people who are grieving the loss of a child or those grieving the loss of a mother or grandmother concentrate on the love that was shared with that person while that person was in this life.
Is this aspect going to make Mother's Day a pleasant day and one where there will not be any tears? Probably not, but I hope that it can help survivors take another look at what they still can do for that person who has departed. They continue to love that person even in death. The person might have departed from this life, but the person continues to be a part of a family and continues to be loved--even in death. Death might have consumed that person, but our love is more powerful than death and death cannot conquer love for that person.
The person who died from suicide could not endure the pain in their life any longer. It became too unbearable for them. Their desperation took over, and any love that was shown them by their family or friends couldn't penetrate the shield that had surrounded them by their mental illness. The love for these tortured souls was not buried with them. The love continues, but it continues in a different way. Survivors are challenged to eventually experience this love as different as it is. The person that is loved is the same but it is the way that the love is expressed that is different. The person is not physically present, but they continue to be a part of the thoughts and conversation. Their presence is experienced in different ways.
That is what we love--their new presence. Would we like the old presence? Of course we would. Since that is not going to happen, the pain of the grief experience can be diminished somewhat as survivors seek this new type of presence and learn to appreciate and relish this new appearance of their loved one. This type of presence can still be the object of the survivor's love. The love can never be destroyed. The key to this whole idea is the recognition of the new type of presence of a loved one who has taken their life. They are gone from this life, but they remain a part of a family and their memory lives on and they continue to be loved by those who survived their loved one's suicide.
The idea is a new approach to relating to those who have departed this life. It certainly relates to those survivors who believe in an afterlife as well as those survivors who feel that once a person has departed this life, they have vanished into a vacuum. Every person who has departed this life by suicide remains a part of a family of survivors who cherish the memories of their loved ones and continue to love them even though the presence is different. They are still loved very deeply as well as being missed by the survivors. I suggest that as Mother's Day is observed this year, those mothers grieving the death of a child or those people who are grieving the loss of a mother or a grandmother concentrate more on the fact that these departed souls continue to be loved dearly and are still part of a family. They might be gone, but they will never be gone, nor will your love for them diminish.
Keep on keepin' on
Father Charles Rubey is the Founder and Director of the LOSS Program of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.