With Mother’s Day just around the corner, people are bombarded with campaigns reminding them to buy Mom some flowers or a spa day. But for many people this time of year is a painful reminder of loss.
Several authors in the PQB area have contributed to an anthology, My Mother’s Story: Gone Too Soon — stories from people who lost their mothers and reflections about reframing that grief into peace.
The book was the idea of Nanoose Bay’s Michelle Hohn, who contributed a piece about losing her mother to breast cancer at age 11. Hohn is a registered therapeutic counsellor. The two previous My Mother’s Story anthologies were originally conceived by Marilyn Norry to document Canadian women’s history.
“Every single author reflection has something so powerful contained within it and so inspirational and uplifting. This is not happy subject matter — it’s heartbreaking, but we’ve managed to make it hopeful at the same time,” Hohn said. “It’s not going to erase the sadness, but it does allow you to simultaneously experience joy and peace and ease.”
She completed the writing exercise in 2015 and found the rules, which focus on writing strictly about the mother’s, rather than the author’s feelings of loss and grief, helpful.
Hohn had the idea to use the writing template in a workshop and support others to explore, document and honour their mothers’ lives.
She suggested a themed anthology to Norry and asked for permission to publish it.
Many of the anthology’s 20 entries come from workshops Hohn organized with a support group for women who lost their mothers at a young age. The number one thing all the stories have in common is the author moves from predominantly feeling their mother’s absence to finding her presence, connection and a sense of belonging in the world.
“By the end of the process, I was starting to feel completely foreign feelings like peace and ease and a place in my heart that had only known sadness was reframed. This whole process was a way to reframe the narrative of loss and grief,” she said.
My Mother’s Story: Gone Too Soon includes entries from Parksville, French Creek, Nanoose Bay and Fanny Bay.
The My Mother’s Story project is a Vancouver-based initiative founded by Norry, her mission is to document the stories of extraordinary women leading ordinary lives.