Tahlequah, the mother of the dead orca, pushes her baby's body through the water as the world watches with horror and empathy. I feel this mother’s pain.
Mourningmom, the mother of a child with serious mental illness, fights for her disabled daughter as the world watches with judgment and disinterest. I feel this mother’s pain.
Tahlequah's grief brings attention to her endangered orca pod. A young orca appears to be starving. Scientists are tracking her and trying to feed her.
Mourningmom's grief does not bring attention to our fractured mental health system. It isn't tracking ill sons and daughters to make sure they get help.
Tahlequah’s devotion concerns whale watchers and other whales, including her son. Her attempt to keep her daughter afloat, for 17 days and 1,000 miles, could take a toll. Family members share their fish with her.
Mourningmom's devotion concerns one or two. Her struggle — for years and years — is taking a toll on her mind, body, and spirit. Family members retreat — from fear or from not knowing what to do.
No one will force Tahlequah to give up her calf before she is ready. (She carried it for 17 months and the live baby swam by her side.) Her maternal bond is too strong.
Everyone will force Mourningmom to give up her child — to lifelong suffering, to homelessness, to prison, to death — but she'll never be ready. Her maternal bond is too strong.