From a Child’s Eyes: Loss, Growth, and Purpose

A story of loss, growth, and purpose by Claire A. Bower

Mothers nurture and care for their children, help them develop their first opinions, teach them good values, and educate them in the ways of life. But what about children without living mothers?

Naturally, the lucky ones have relatives, or friends, that step in and take on the role of the mother, but the child still has to live without the closeness of a maternal figure. There will always be a void that remains within the child as they lack the bond with their mother. Learning to live, grow, and help others with this void is what becomes important as these children grow up.

A month before my fourth birthday, my own mother passed away due to a childbirth complication while she was in labor with my younger brother, Luke. As you can imagine, this rocked my world; I vividly remember the last conversation I had with her, how I was told of her passing, and the memories of frequent park adventures and Disney trips. The closeness with her evaporated without warning.

Growing was hard, there is no possible way to sugar coat that; I would be lying if I said it was easy. Birthdays, becoming a teenager, my first school dance, Christmas (my Mother’s favorite holiday), learning to become a confident young woman, dating, these are some of the simple things that showed to be particularly bittersweet growing up. I was happy with their presence, but saddened by the lack of my Mother’s. It’s always the simple things we take for granted that stick with us the most…or at least that’s what I’ve found to be true for myself.

The current struggle is about advice. Many young girls turn to their mothers for comfort, wise words, or laughter in the midst of anxiety. While I have many loving people around me that I appreciate, there are times that the little girl inside of me yearns to sit and get guidance from her own mother. To hear her opinion, to have her hug me and tell me “it’s going to be okay,” to guide me in looking for colleges as a junior and senior in high school, and into the quickly approaching transition from a teenager to a college-aged adult.

For many children, I feel it’s the steady rhythm of daily life with their mother that they miss. Once she is gone the beat simply is not the same and their life is all of a sudden a completely different tune.

Among small children the saying “get over it!” is often thrown around, and when you think about it, that saying is entirely ridiculous. People cannot control how they feel. Individuals can control how they react and use their emotions, but they cannot control the emotions their brain creates and presents. So honestly, telling somebody to get over an unfortunate event is absurd.

When I was growing up I would often try to suppress my own emotions simply so that I would feel strong and like I had accomplished something, when truly, ignoring the reality of my emotions and failing to face them head on accomplished absolutely nothing but prolonged heartache. Learning to face the emotions, the heartache, and the loss was a day to day learning process but one that to this day has made me who I am.

As a young child I was blessed to have a large group of people in my life that were constantly there to love, encourage, and rally around me to raise me up. This helped to give me confidence and helped to fill the lack of maternal affection I otherwise couldn’t receive. These people did not ignore my Mother’s existence or her death; they didn’t shove the facts under the rug. The people that knew my mother recognized her life, and were open with sharing her opinions, experiences, and passions with me as I grew up. So though I could not grow up with my Mother physically present, her ideas and life story still impacted and influenced me every day. I will forever be grateful for that.

Furthermore, none of these people forced me to talk about my feelings, they did not suffocate me with treatment, they did not interrogate me about my emotions, they provided a constant love and were incredibly respectful of the things I was comfortable and uncomfortable with. This was critical in my growth as I learned to trust those around me, how to cope with my own emotions in a healthy manner, and it also allowed me to truly take the time I needed to work through the grieving process. Every person has different needs in traumatic situations; these needs must also be respected and taken into consideration. It is the only way for any help to be effective and for the individual to grow, learn, and work past their negative state.

The loss of my mother taught me many things about life, one of which being the fact that in one second everything can change, and entire situations, families, and environments can be altered.

As I’ve gotten older this has become a constant theme in my daily life. I strive to always look at the bigger picture and live looking forward, using every second I have.

Moreover, it taught me that through hardships we must find courage, confront our own emotions, grow wiser through experience, and learn to cope with the situation so that we do not live the rest of our lives dwelling within a shadow of loss. These lessons have made me strong and have given much a different perspective of the concept of life, along with its purpose.

As a 16 year old, I am making it my mission to do as much as I can to build others up, advocate for maternal safety, promote equality globally, and to work to make the entire international community a safer place, both physically and emotionally for all. Every conversation that spreads awareness, every little bit of love you give to others, every thing you pour into current issues makes a difference, regardless of what the issue is. As cliché as it sounds, finding something to fight for, finding a purpose, being able to help someone that otherwise cannot help themselves — that is kindness, that is love, that is compassion, that is what humanity should be.

Growing up without my biological mother was not easy, but it did teach me something. I cannot change what has happened to me, but I can take the negative things that have happened in the past 16 years, and I can consciously choose to use them to make a positive impact and find a purpose. If using my story and what I have learned from my experience to spread awareness can help one person, it has helped somebody and I have served a purpose. That is what is now important to me.

I encourage all young women like myself, and all young men, to use their experiences to grow, use their hardships to learn, and to use their lives for good.

At the end of your life will you be proud of what you did and who you impacted? That is what we should all be asking ourselves. So lets all step out, find our purpose, and fulfill it.

Claire Bower is a 16 year old sophomore from Naples, Florida who is greatly involved in performing arts, musical theatre, and her high school Model United Nations team. She has always had a love for writing and global affairs, and is interested in exploring journalism and public relations as potential careers, while also continuing her involvement in performing arts after high school.

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