by beCause Associate Robi Damelin – While watching the bereaved African-American mothers on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I thought just how much we mothers, who have lost children, have in common, regardless of color, creed or national identity. I thought that all bereaved mothers in the world should rise up together and say, “Enough! Stop the killing! Let our children live out the course of their lives. We cannot continue to have the dreadful task of burying our sons and daughters and of continuing our motherhood by tending to graves and pretending that planting flowers and plants brings solace.”
I promise you, as one who has lost a child, the pain never goes away. Yes, we put on our mask in the morning and set out into the world as if it is still the same, but underneath this facade we are forever damaged. Life takes on a bitter sweet tone. No matter how many happy events occur there is always the empty chair at the table, the missing grandchildren we would have had, the complete joy of a wedding or anniversary. We learn to live with the loss next to us and we either choose to die with our child, to seek a path of revenge only to discover there is no revenge for lost child. Or in some cases to walk a path of reconciliation to prevent others from having their hearts torn out. Choosing the path of reconciliation allows me to give up being a victim and to be free.
Imagine if the mothers on the stage at the Democratic National Convention were joined by the mothers of police killed in the recent violence. Imagine that in one voice they would shout out to all, “Stop the killing. Look for the humanity in the other, and shout out, if we who have paid the highest price can stand here before you in an effort to stop the violence, then surely you can too.” All these mothers could then feel a sense of purpose and perhaps find a reason to get up in the morning and honor their children in the most extraordinary way. They could choose not anger, but dare I say it, love. They could discover each other through understanding and empathy.
In a way I feel qualified to say all this after many years of working in the Parents Circle – Family Forum. We are a group of Palestinian and Israeli families who have all suffered the lose of a loved one in this conflict which could have ended long ago. We recognize the need to tell our personal story many times to bring a message of reconciliation. It is not always easy. There is violence, war, stabbings, bombs, killing of innocent civilians on both sides. However, we know that we are here to change the situation and that the rippling effect of empathy can move mountains.
I wish we could meet Palestinian mothers, Israeli mothers, Mothers of the Movement and the mothers of police officers who lost their lives. I feel sure we could work together to implant a sense of hope, that things can be different and that there is nothing more important than the sanctity of human lives.
Robi Damelin is featured in the documentary film One Day After Peace and her profoundly moving TEDx. She is one of four international 2014 Women PeaceMakers. This article was first published on HuffPo earlier this month.