The news that Jade Goody has sadly died comes on Mother’s Day in the UK, a time that Prince William recently revealed is difficult for him. William has become patron on the Child Bereavement Charity – which has launched a campaign: ‘Remember on Mother’s Day’ asking people to consider “those mothers bereaved of a child or those children bereaved of their Mum”.
I’m sure many will spare a thought for Jade’s sons, Bobby and Freddie today and her mum, Jacquiey, who showed great dignity in announcing the loss of her daughter to media this morning.
swore at her mother’s graveside to dedicate her life to the establishment of a day to honour mothers and in 1914 the US Congress passed a joint resolution for an official Mother’s Day. It was celebrated in Britain again after the Second World War, when American servicemen brought the custom with them. But Jarvis became concerned about the commercialisation of Mother’s Day: “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” She opposed the selling of flowers and also the use of greeting cards: “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write”. She spent the last 40 years of her life trying to stop it and died in 1948, blind, penniless and childless, buried next to her mother in a cemetery in Philadelphia
Anna Jarvis’ mother was a woman who worked to better society – and this should be the spirit we celebrate, alongside appreciating the unique qualities of our own mothers – not using it as an excuse for lame marketing.
Princess Diana was famed during her life for the good works that she supported, notably gaining public acceptance for AIDs patients. Jade Goody has left a legacy by increasing understanding of cervical cancer, the work of charities such as Jo’s Trust, and the importance of screening for young women – something that shockingly is different in England. Jade also apparently asked for a foundation to be set up in her name, echoing that set up in memory of the Princess.
Another mother’s tragic death this week, that of actress Natasha Richardson, has raised debate regarding wearing of helmets whilst skiing, as well as the profile of Headway, the brain injury association.
Such small specialist charities work hard to raise understanding of their issue, and struggle to compete with larger “brand” charities to generate funds and influence politicians. Sadly, when tragedies happen to high profile individuals, especially mothers of young children, it provides a public relations opportunity for their message to reach a much wider audience.
The BBC documentary earlier this week regarding the cancer battle of actress Wendy Richard was intended to help others experiencing cancer treatment. Even though Wendy didn’t have children of her own, it was evident the actors who player her sons, and particularly Natalie Cassidy who had joined EastEnders as a child, viewed her as a surrogate mother.
But another sad mother’s day story today does not involve a celebrity, but the parents of 9-month old baby OT, who died after his life support machine was switched off yesterday. It isn’t clear if anyone thought of the added pain of doing this on the eve of Mother’s Day, but it seems to add another dimension to the family’s loss.
The stories of millions of mothers and their families won’t make the news today, but it is an important time for us to acknowledge our own mothers and the power of women in society more widely.
My own mum is an absolute star and every day she amazes me with how she has coped following the sad loss of my dad last year. I know how hard it is for the families of Jade Goody, Princess Diana, Natasha Richardson, Wendy Richard and baby OT to deal with bereavement – to do so in the public eye enables their personal tragedies to reach others and hopefully do some good.
Even though days like this have become horribly commercial, they also enable a true meaning to be conveyed – how special mothers are, especially one’s own.