A mother’s lifelong grief

A mother’s lifelong grief

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:06 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence

In 1930, the Scottish writer, W.T. Gunn, published an article entitled, “The Old, Old Woman and the Little Wee Shoes,” in which he describes the lifelong grief of a mother whose daughter had died 50 years before. Gunn quotes the deceased daughter’s sister as she describes her mother’s grief to a neighbor: “What do you think I found Mother doing the other day when I went over to see her?” The neighbor refused to hazard a guess, and the sister continues: “Mother is an old woman of 76 and when I went in she had a bureau drawer open and was looking at a little wee pair of shoes that belonged to a little baby sister of mine that died over 50 years ago, before I was born. You’d have thought she’d have forgotten all about her after 50 years, wouldn’t you?” Since that surviving sister’s husband and children were all alive and healthy, and she had never lost a child of her own, she could not comprehend the grief a parent experiences when they lose a child, and the fact that those parents who lose a child never forget that child’s death. It is not uncommon for people to make such thoughtless and cold statements to bereaved parents as, “I know you’ve lost a daughter, but you’re lucky because you have other children,” or “You’ll give birth to other children as time goes on.” But what these well-intentioned people do not realize is that parents love every child; that every child is special and occupies its own unique place in the hearts of the parents; and that no other child can take the place of a child who has died. Because many bereaved parents do not want to hear platitudes, admonitions and well-worn clichés, they refuse to discuss their grief with people other than those who are empathetic and have some understanding as to how they feel and what they are experiencing. Even though bereaved parents may not say very much about the death of their child, like the older mother who looked at the “little wee shoes” and had not forgotten, these parents have not forgotten their deceased child. There are countless homes where special little treasures that carry “precious memories” are stored, and no one except those bereaved parents can understand, for they do remember that child. In their memory, they re-live every priceless moment and experience they shared with that deceased child, and they will never forget them. ——— Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com. Published in The Messenger 10.16.08

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