For Moms and Dads – and those just like them

Karen Coney Coplin

Love makes a difference, and this is especially true on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Still, there are many reasons that people might feel uncertain and unbalanced or even melancholy and depressed as these special Sundays draw near.

You, or someone you know, may have weathered the unfathomable loss of a child. This is heart searing whether the loss is long ago or is more recent.

If this loss has occurred to someone you know or care about, please don’t hesitate to give them special attention. The love for their child is enduring, and some gentle words may shine a small light on a very dark spot. If a loss such as this has happened to you, well, I have no words except to say how profoundly sorry I am as you travel on a lifelong grief journey.

There are many other reasons that people might feel off-center on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. A miscarriage, health issues affecting your abilities or those of your child, family estrangement, and, even, lost or changing expectations in our world today all bear upon reflections many consider as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach.

Still others may grieve their inability to have children, a daunting and often private burden. And, some women may experience complications during birth, turning a joyfully anticipated experience into one of trauma and recovery.

Or, if you are like me, you are an orphan. This status is conferred regardless of one’s age. My parents passed from cancer in 2007. Sometimes those 15 years seem like a lifetime ago and other times, more like yesterday.

Often, and more so as time goes on, I play little games with myroutines to keep their traditions alive in my heart and to share with my daughters, who were just 8 and 4, then 5, when my father passed seven months before my mother did.

As Maria Shriver once wrote (paraphrased): “Motherhood and fatherhood is a job done everywhere, and it never stops, even when the mother and father are gone.”

Fortunately, my folks were both alive for Mother’s Day 2007 and I treasure the message they left, almost in unison, on an answering machine. “Oh hi honey, it’s Mom and Dad here wishing you a happy Mother’s Day and sending you love.”

Once they became grandparents, the tables were turned and I always heard from them first on Mother’s and Father’s Day.

Naturally we spoke later that evening, never imagining that my father would live just nine more days. Surprisingly, I managed to keep it together for Father’s Day 2007, in part because I was especially solicitous of my mom, and together we rode the waves of grief.

In those dark hours, I remember the tenderness of friends and family who came to my side and essentially “mothered” me. And though we have traditionally looked to fathers as providers, they are caregivers too.

For all the men and women who offer others support and loving kindness, advice and encouragement, thank you. The world needs more people like you in the lives of children as well as those needing mothering or fathering. And not just on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Every single day.

Karen can be reached at or @naplesbythenumbers on Instagram, where her adventures of Life in Naples are documented. Send along your ideas for future articles or comments on this one.

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