By Karla Wheeler —

In every community there are mothers who need extra doses of TLC this Mother’s Day. I’m thinking of the mothers who are enduring that painful grieving experience, the loss of a son or daughter.

As we go about our usual Mother’s Day activities, lavishing our moms with gifts or paying tribute to mothers who are no longer living, let’s take a moment to reach out to a mom we know who has lost a child through death.

My father was a role model in this regard. His reverence for his mother, and all mothers, reached new heights after tragedy struck. The instant Daddy received word that his brother had died unexpectedly, his number one concern was for his mother.

Although my uncle’s funeral occurred when I was just a teen, vivid scenes from that emotional week flash back. I remember how Daddy stayed by my grandmother’s side, tending to her every need. I also recall Daddy’s saying to me, “Losing a child is the toughest thing a mother could ever experience, so we need to show your grandmother extra respect and love.”

Daddy’s words of wisdom from decades ago ring true in letters I’ve received from readers who’ve shared their stories of loss.

A letter from a mother in Alabama is particularly poignant and heart-wrenching. She writes of the tragic car accident a year ago that claimed the life of her 16-year-old daughter and the girl’s boyfriend.

This grief-stricken mother is crying out for compassion and understanding as she writes, “I have the feeling that everyone around me wishes I’d just stop talking about it and get over it.”

Some of the people she knows obviously don’t realize that grieving is a lifelong process and everyone works through it in their own way and time. As one of the instructors who trained me to become a grief support volunteer put it, “No one should be ‘should’ upon.”

Just because a year has passed doesn’t mean the bereaved mother “should be getting over it.” There are no timetables with grief, nor are there magical elixirs that can erase the pain and emptiness.

This concept is underscored in a letter from a bereaved mother in Ontario, who seems to be doing beautifully with her grief process, partly because she finds it therapeutic to write about her daughter.

Her story is gripping, and as I reached the last page of her letter, I fully expected to read that her 9-year-old’s battle with leukemia had taken place in recent years.

I was amazed. This mother’s beloved daughter had died 25 years ago!

This Mother’s Day, let’s take a minute to send flowers or a card to a relative, neighbor, co-worker or any other mother we know who has lost a son or daughter, whether the death occurred last month or last decade. Even a quick phone call or email can make a world of difference on this bittersweet holiday.

Copyright by Karla Wheeler. All rights reserved. May be reprinted, as long as proper byline and copyright appear.

Karla Wheeler is president and founder of QUALITY OF LIFE PUBLISHING CO.

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Karla Wheeler

For 20 years, Karla Wheeler has been an expert in hospice care and grief support - both personally and professionally. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Karla is the founder of Quality of Life Publishing Company, an independent firm dedicated to helping hospices provide their compassionate care to terminally ill patients and their families. Her company publishes clinical newsletters for hospices to educate area doctors and nurses about the many advantages of referring patients to hospice. The periodical Quality of Life Matters® is now in its 11th year and is recommended as an educational resource by top medical organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Her firm also publishes a growing family of grief and other self-help books, including three written by Karla. Afterglow: Signs of Continued Love is a compilation of stories of comforting coincidences from those who grieve. Timmy’s Christmas Surprise and Heart-Shaped Pickles are popular resources for grieving children. Karla’s grief support columns have been published widely in newspapers via Scripps Howard News Service. Her articles about grief in the workplace have appeared in business/management newspapers, magazines, and newsletters across North America. Karla was a guest on the radio show, “Healing the Grieving Heart,” in October 2008, where she shared insights into hospice care in America. To hear her show with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, go to the following link: Thanks to hospice, five members of Karla’s immediate family have been able to die with dignity and free of pain, including her 54-year-old husband, who was diagnosed with advanced cancer “out of the blue” in late 2006 and died a month later. Other loved ones who were blessed with hospice care include Karla’s mother, father, father-in-law, and grandmother. It was after her grandmother experienced what Karla calls “a beautiful death” in 1987 that Karla knew she would someday dedicate her journalism career to helping families understand that no one needs to die in pain - physically, emotionally or spiritually. Hospice professionals help to ease pain on all levels. Karla and her teenage daughter travel nationwide to speak about death, dying, hospice care, and grief. Jenny is the author of a teen-to-teen grief support book, Weird Is Normal When Teenagers Grieve, based on her experiences and observations following her father’s death when she was 14 years old.

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