Sappy Mother’s Day

Image of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers.

There’s no point in pretending otherwise. For many, Mother’s Day is just plain difficult.

Sons and daughters grieve the loss of their Moms. And Mommas grieve the loss of their sons and daughters. Anticipating Mother’s Day ushers in a myriad of emotions that sends us reeling—reliving sweet memories of the past and making new ones while at the same time grieving those who are physically absent but always top of mind. These are the makings for a sappy day. 

What is sappy?

Sad + Happy = Sappy

Truth be told, sappy happens more frequently than just Mother’s Day. For me, every day since my son, Jordan, died could be described as sappy. The emotions of sad + happy live together in my heart as conflicting roommates who have resigned themselves to a peaceful truce.

The Little Secret

Since my kids were old enough to print, I have treasured the cards Jordan and Chantel have independently made for me on Mother’s Day. I’ve kept them all!

In his elementary years, Jordan would thoughtfully create occasion cards on the computer. But he would only sign his name to the card. No personal words of endearment were added.

One day as Jordan was creating a card for his Auntie Nancy, I shared a little secret. When someone receives a card, I explained, the very first thing they read is the personal handwritten note you add. As clever as the Hallmark prose may be, it is not where the reader’s eyes are first drawn. Rather it is the handwritten words from the sender filling the blank spaces which have the greatest significance.

This new information resonated with Jordan. From then on, when he sent a card, Jordan filled the blank spaces with his own words of humour, love and appreciation. It became his personal brand.

I really looked forward to Jordan’s cards. They were given on every occasion and at times for no particular reason. The blank space of the card would always be filled with his scribbly handwriting containing words of love that I would hang onto until the next card.

The Very Last One

It caught me completely by surprise that Jordan’s final card to his Dad and me was written just days before he died. Elise, his bride-turned-widow, presented it to us on the day we had the unimaginable task of choosing Jordan’s coffin. We were barely functioning in mind-numbing shock. Jordan couldn’t have known his last handwritten words, both humorous and loving, would be priceless to us, his grieving parents. Jordan’s enthusiasm for life and those he loved gives us courage to carry on and love others.

There are no more cards from Jordan to look forward to. I read and reread the old ones and thank the Lord I have kept them all. It’s intensely sappy.

A Private Conversation

Competing for first place on my list of most treasured words from Jordan is a single brief entry from his prayer journal on Mother’s Day 2011. There is something sacred about reading a private conversation between my son and His Heavenly Father as he expresses appreciation… for me!

Jordan wrote, “Thank you, God, that my Mom is a Christian. She has provided me with an amazing upbringing. I love her.”

Tears tumble down my cheeks. Why? More than the anticipated “I love you” written in a card, Jordan’s few words expressed in private both wreck and amaze me. Pure sappy.

In keeping with Jordan’s legacy, may I encourage you to:

  1. Think of a grieving friend who needs to be encouraged and affirmed by your words.
  2. Send them a card today! A thoughtful card will have a greater impact than you can know! Often a griever has shared how “out of the blue” a card arrived on a particularly difficult day. Unbeknownst to the sender, the timing of the card’s arrival and the love expressed brought fresh hope and comfort.
  3. Tell God how thankful you are for someone who has positively impacted your life. Allow that someone to eavesdrop on your conversation with God. They won’t be able to stop smiling.


You can’t fix the pain but you can help to carry it.

Sending a card is a simple yet effective way to help carry the pain. I’m confident that Jordan is cheering us on from Heaven to continue the timeless tradition of giving thoughtful cards. None of us knows when it will be our final words. Let’s make it a beautiful, sappy memory for those who will read our words long after we’re gone.

Cheering you on!


Picture of Shirley Thiessen

Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.