CHICAGO — It’s a day when families are spoiling mothers and the mother figures in their lives but for those grieving the loss of a child or their mom, it can be a day of dread.
In Pullman, women came together to help one other with a shoulder to lean on. Octavia Mitchell is one of the “Heal Your Heart” event organizers. She lost her son, Isiah Jackson, in an altercation with Chicago police 12 years ago in April of 2010.
For more than a decade, Mother’s Day was something Mitchell says she couldn’t enjoy.
“I usually stay in the bed,” she said. “I don’t get up to come outside.”
Mitchell says it took her 11 years to be able to celebrate Mother’s Day, coming to terms with the realization that she was depriving her other kids of enjoying the day with her.
As a result, Mitchell says she wants to try and help put a smile on local moms’ faces by doing something extraordinary for all involved – creating a personalized card for everyone with their child’s face and name on it.
Shirley Motin lost two sons – nine months apart – to shootings in 2017 and a third one four years later in 2021. She is still a mom to her daughter Aisha Blakley.
“It gets lonely. It’s very lonely,” Blakley said. “I get emotional a lot but I got to be strong for my mother because I’m all she got.”
Blakley says being a part of Sunday’s event was therapeutic for both her and her mother.
“It eases me a bit,” Blakley said. “It gave my mom a chance to be around people who’ve lost kids, so she can know she’s not going through it alone.”
Motin has advice for Chicago parents.
“Grab your child and talk to them because they could be here today and gone tomorrow,” she said.
Blakley also has a message for offenders behind violent crimes.
“They should open their eyes and really see that they’re not hurting the streets,” she says, “they’re hurting the families left behind.”