‘What I would want from my grieving children if I was gone on Mother’s Day’

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As you know by now, my children lost their dad two years ago. They range in ages between 15-24, and it’s been tough. Holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. Anniversaries are hard. Wednesday afternoons are hard. I was thinking about it the other day, and my daughter, who was 13 when he died, only had 13 of those celebrations with him. Only 13 celebrations. 13 Father’s Days. 13 Christmases. 13 Easters. And, I’m sure the first five she barely remembers. It just wasn’t enough time. Not for her. Not for him. Not for any of us. In saying that, 30 celebrations isn’t enough either. There’s just never enough time.

Watching my husband die was awful. And it was horrifying. But now, being a single mom is really scary. There’s a million reasons why, but one of the things I now think about on a daily basis is that my kids now only have me. After his death, I immediately wrote a will and assigned guardianship of my minor child, because if something happens to me, my child will be a literal orphan. That’s a terrifying thought.

Every now and then, I think about it. I think about what life would be like if I were gone, too. Do I have enough life insurance? Will she be able to live in our house? Who will love her like I do? Who will make sure she’s doing her homework? Who will know her friends? Her stories? Who will make sure she has a chocolate Easter bunny and a full Christmas stocking? Who will know every, single look? Every giggle? Or every teenage hormone; which ones to ignore and which ones to figure out better?

The answer is nobody. Nobody will ever know her, or love her the way her mom does.

I’m sure it would be hard for her, all the time. I am sure it would be hard for her at the big stuff, like prom, her wedding, the birth of her own child. But, I’m also sure that the holidays will sting, and Mother’s Day will burn pretty bad. I am thankful to still be here with her, and to still have time with her. But, if I wasn’t, there are things I would want her to know when Mother’s Day came around.

Celebrate: It’s ok. It really is. Celebrate the day if you want to. Pick wildflowers or take a sunflower to your friends who are moms, or to your grandma, or to somebody who has been like a mom to you. If you’re a mom now, let your kids, or your husband or partner celebrate you. It’s ok to relax, to be pampered, to be loved, and to take a day off. Sometimes, it’s good for people to celebrate you, even if you don’t feel like celebrating. It’s good for the soul. Don’t shut yourself off from the things that could be great.

Mother who tells what she wants her children to know if she were gone smiling in selfie with daughter
Diana Register

Talk about me if you want to:  And don’t if you don’t. But if you choose to, then do it. People will listen. They will be compassionate. Tell stories. Remember me. Remember us. Tell your kids about me. Show them pictures. Tell them about the time you loved me the most and the time when I was the worst mom ever. Tell them everything. Tell them the funny stuff, tell them about the trips. Tell them about when we fought, and when we didn’t. Tell them about ‘that time when…’ Make me real for them.

Don’t sit at my grave:  Go visit if you want to, but don’t stay there. You have a life to live. Go live it.

Mother smiles in selfie with daughter who she tells her how she'd want her to grieve if she were gone
Diana Register

Make our favorites: Memories just don’t come floating into your mind. Memories come attached to an emotion, a feeling, a smell, a taste and a sound. Make our favorite dinner, or our favorite treats and breathe it in. Share it with a friend. If you’re alone, do it anyway. I’ll be there. Watching over you.

Go for a walk: Take in the beauty of nature. Listen for the baby birds. Look for new flowers, baby animals or anything else that signifies new life. Spring is full of new things, and the world keeps going. You keep going, too.

Enjoy you:  Just do you. Whatever makes you happy – do it. If you don’t feel like being around people, don’t. But, do not sit at home and cry for me. Take a nap if you have to, reflect quietly if you need to, but don’t neglect yourself because I am not there. You owe to you, and to me to make sure you’re okay, even without me. Because you are – and you will – always be okay. I raised you to be a strong, beautiful, independent woman. I have faith in you.”

Mother who tells her children what she'd want them to know if she were gone smile in selfie with two daughters
Diana Register


This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register, 45, of Meridian, Idaho. She is the founder of iam149.org, and is in the process of writing of a book about her journey with grief after her husband’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. She has been chronicling her journey with grief in a series of stories for Love What Matters:

‘With his body full of tumors, he kept working’: Wife’s tremendous grief after husband’s cancer diagnosis

‘I could barely speak’: Grieving woman struck by coffee barista’s ‘simple act of kindness’

‘There is a fallout from death that extends beyond the first year. Please, don’t forget us in the second.’

‘We do not think of dispatchers as heroes, but that night, Jeff was mine.’

’25 days before the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death, a Facebook memory popped up’

‘I let my 15-year-old daughter get a tattoo, and no, I don’t care what anybody has to say about it.’

‘Having him gone for eternity is impossible to comprehend’: Grieving wife finds ‘signs, winks’ EVERYWHERE from late husband

‘Dear You: I am terrified. I am so scared. Because the last time I felt this way, he left. It was out of his control.’

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