Mothers Day can be a hard day for anyone who has lost a mother. It can be doubly hard for those of us who have lost both a child and a mother, but these things are multiplied if one is also a non believer.
Myself, I have some prep going into the mother’s day weekend, as my mom died weeks before mother’s day 2 years ago. May 2nd (the anniversary of her death) I had a flood of Emails and Facebook posts telling me that mom was “in heaven” or that mom was “watching over me”.
I am always torn about how to respond to, or take these comments. I try my hardest to take the comments in the spirit that they are given in. I truly think that those who say such things (who should know me well enough to know that I don’t believe in heaven or that someone is capable of ‘watching over me’ after they die) still only tell me these things in an effort to try to comfort me. But on days where I feel isolated and alone most often, these comments make me feel worse.
I hate to sound selfish, but sometimes (especially when someone is trying to make ME feel better) I wish that people could put aside their own beliefs and try to make ME feel better.
Here is how I look at ‘life after death’:
Well… maybe I should back up. I think that we are all what the matter that makes us up lets us be. The matter that makes up my brain, my organs, my limbs…. If I lose use of an arm or a lung or a part of my brain I will act differently…. to varying degrees depending on how serious the injury is and what part it is.
I think that a large part of who I am is the neural pathways in my brain. And a not insignificant part of those neural pathways are make up my memory. For example: memory’s of my mom.
Lessons she has taught me, Skills she has taught me, Story’s she has told me, and the Morals she taught me; all woven in to my neural pathways and I couldn’t get rid of them even if I wanted to.
Not to mention the fact that I look so much like my mother (physical traits wise) that people mistake pictures of mom for pictures of me all the time.
The funny part of that is people mistook pictures of grandma for pictures of mom as well as pictures of great grandma for pictures of grandma. So anyone who wants to have an approximate of what I’m going to look like when I’m 70 needs only to meet my grandma.
But back to my original point. If all we are, is what we are…. if we are only what our minds and DNA says we are…. well…. I kind of get to decide how much of our mothers gets to live on.
The DNA; That me & my brother have already, it’s going to be my kids and it’s already my nieces… CHECK.
What I’m more concerned about for this mothers day is my moms memory. I mean that in an honest way. I have started making a flower bed the way she taught me to when I was about 5…. and who knows… maybe when we sell our house the new owners will keep it and that flower bed (& part of my mom) will be around for another 50 years. I am, myself, going to make an effort to learn from the lessons my mother taught me and the example she set for me. Also I am going to try to learn from her mistakes.
Most importantly (from my frame of mind right now) I’m going to try to talk about my mom and share the knowledge she has given me. If she was neural pathway pathways and created neural pathway pathways in me, and I pass on knowledge from those pathways that create new pathways in someone else… well… that’s the kind of living on I have no problem believing in.
What I would love for people to say to me instead of “your mom is in a better place” or “god needed an angel” or the thousand other cliches we have all heard already; is something personal, something unique. Tell me why I look or act like mom… Tell me a story about her… Even better, tell your kids a story about.
I may be wrong, but even if you are religious I can’t imagine anyone getting more comfort out of a trite saying than a personal story. And if you are religious and are reading this… well… try to keep in mind that your comments may be having the exact opposite effect that you intend. If you care enough about a person to send a thought to them when you know they are going through a tough time, try to care enough to not say something that will only serve to make you feel better, but them feel worse.