The 3 things you learn after your mother dies.

My mother died from ovarian cancer when I was a young child.

I’m in my late 30s now, and I’m still navigating this loss as I move through life. I’ve lived most of my life without my mother at this point, but I still miss her.

Here are three things I’ve learned since losing Mam:


1. Grief is not linear and is not solely expressed through tears.

Someone you love has been taken away from you, and your heart has broken into pieces. It’s natural to grieve, but we all grieve differently. Grief shows up in anger, sorrow, guilt, fear, and sometimes peace. It is unpredictable and, at times, exhausting.

I cried when my mother died, and I cried at her funeral when my school choir sang "Be Not Afraid." I didn’t cry much in the immediate years that followed —  not directly as a result of Mam’s death, but probably indirectly related to it. I certainly felt fear and anger and other emotions related directly to my loss.

Then sadness hit me like a ton of bricks one day when I was in my early 20s. A compassionate friend asked me about Mam, and as I hadn’t spoken about her to anyone outside the family, I broke down. It was a good release. The years have brought many stages of grieving.

Mother’s Day is never easy. Shopping for my wedding dress without my mother brought up intense feelings of loss. And sometimes it just hits me hard, on a regular day, yanking me out of my pleasant thoughts. A mother in a dressing room with her daughter, and they’re trying on clothes together, admiring how the other looks. The mother telling the daughter how beautiful she is.

Or a friend of mine, meeting her mother for lunch and I can’t even imagine what that would be like! I can’t even fathom the amazing joy of having lunch right now with Mam! And then I get that heaviness in my chest and my stomach feels bad.

There’s no closure. My grieving stems from having loved so deeply. I have learned to tune into the emotions I’m feeling and to acknowledge the love, the pain, and the loss.

2. There are no replacements.

Nobody can replace your mother. We love our mothers in our own individual ways. Our mothers care for us when we’re sick, guide us in life the best ways they can, listen to us, and love us unconditionally.

For a mother, her child is always her first priority. And we sense this. We feel it. We know it, even if she doesn’t say it.

Carmel and Mam. Image courtesy of Carmel Breathnach.

My mother was beyond happy when I was born a healthy baby girl. I was told that she called me her little angel. She carried me in her womb for nine months.

By the time I was born, we had that unbreakable bond, and she knew me from that first second of my existence. There’s never going to be a replacement for that person who loved me probably more than she loved herself. The joy in her eyes when she saw me, the warmth of her arms wrapped around me, the pain in her eyes when she had to say goodbye are all ways that I remember the deep love she had for me.

Mam prepared lunches for me every day to take to school, named muffins after me because they were my favorite, and surprised me with the best doll she could find when I was a few years old. She repaired my soft toys when they tore, taught me to have manners and sit up straight, wiped my eyes when I cried and my nose when I was sick.

Today I look for certain qualities in people. I look for a warmth, a radiance, a compassion and kindness that Mam had. I look for humor, a voice of sense, and strength of character. These are traits that my mother had. I find some of them in others.

But it’s never the same. There’ll never be another Mam. She’s irreplaceable on so many levels.

3. There are other people who will love you and other people for you to love.

Family members and friends will love you. They might not know exactly what your needs are or how to address them, but it’s worth reaching out to them. People struggle with different things.

Perhaps family members cannot love you or be there for you, and we may have to look around, let go, and reach further than we might want to in order to find the people who really love us, but there is someone out there to love you, and there’s someone in need of your love.

I was blessed with the kindest, most devoted father who gave my brother and me all the love and care we needed. My dad is a gem in my life. He calls me to hear my news and to share his. He worries when I’m not feeling good and is overjoyed when I’m happiest. He listens to my concerns and trusts me to make the right decisions.

My dad has helped me so much in dealing with my loss, through caring for me and loving me unconditionally. I have the most wonderful fiancé who loves me to no end. And I’ve friends in my life who I know truly care about me.

I’ve been blessed with a lovely family, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t reach out to others. I’ve reconnected with old friends after years of distance. I’ve discovered things I have in common with others and opened up to new friendships.

Having people to love is truly healing. I was a kindergarten teacher for 10 years. I loved the children in my care, and they showed me so much love in return. By spreading love, we invite more love into our lives. Try volunteering or working in a school or a hospital. There are people everywhere in need of love.

Our world is so big and yet so small now in this age of technology. We can reach out to others across continents.

Our mothers were the first to show us the true meaning of love. In honor of our mothers, let’s spread that love wherever we can.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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