Women find solace sharing memories of mothers they miss

| April 28, 2022 | 0 Comments

“Milestone events are hard,” admits Breanne Metcalf, founder of The Betsey Network, a new peer-to-peer conversation group that helps women grieving their mothers find solace among other women in similar situations. Milestones such as: “When I met my husband, Patrick; our marriage; having our baby.”
Metcalf continues, “But it’s the little moments I miss the most: When I have a bad day at work; when I see something I like and want to call my mother.”

Inspiration for The Betsey Network
After Metcalf’s parents divorced, her mother, Betsey Boyd, raised Metcalf and her two older brothers. “Every day after school, she was always there to discuss my day, my friends,” Metcalf remembers. “I was lucky.” Boyd died of a brain aneurysm when Metcalf was in her senior year of high school. In a coma for four months before she succumbed, Boyd woke up only once, when Metcalf went to see her, dressed for her high school graduation.

THE BETSEY NETWORK founder Breanne Metcalf with daughter Maeve and a photograph of her late mother, Betsey Boyd.

When Metcalf had an ultrasound during the pregnancy with her now 1-year-old daughter, she acutely felt the loss of her mother. “I wished I could share it with my mom.” That feeling only grew more pronounced when Maeve was born. “I felt what my mom must have felt when she had me.”

Metcalf decided to honor her mother by establishing a means to connect with other women who mourned the loss of their own mothers because of death, incarceration, abandonment or illness.

The Rossmore Avenue resident spent her last few weeks of maternity leave forming goals and guidelines. The Betsey Network was born.

Healing through sharing
Metcalf, who works at Hulu in human resources, decided to start small. She didn’t advertise; told a few friends and listed it on LinkedIn. Eight women signed on to the first Zoom meeting of The Betsey Network in December. Some lost their moms in childhood; one as recently as last summer. Metcalf notes that five months later, 30 women “from across the United States, of differing backgrounds, life stages and types of loss” have joined the group.

In Metcalf’s experience, women feel it burdens others if they talk about missing their mothers, but that takes a huge emotional toll because, “Even seeing a grandmother at the park with her grandchildren can trigger your grief.”

In the virtual meetings, she always asks women to share stories about their moms. “It is cathartic to talk,” Metcalf explains. “It is a relief. People cry.”

The loneliness of loss
The Betsey Network participant Jacquelyn Arenas from Austin, Texas, reflects that her 4-year-old daughter remembers Arenas’ mother, but her 2-year-old son does not. “When I look at my children and know of the amazing, fun, kind grandmother they won’t get to remember, the heartache is almost too much to comprehend.”

Molly Ernestes of Cincinnati, Ohio, reveals, “My mom was my best friend, and losing her when I was just 9 years old was one of the most difficult things I had ever gone through. I will always miss my mom. It’s difficult to grow up because the older I get, the more my mom fades away.”

Kristen Stebbins of Jersey City, New Jersey, offers, “There are lessons to be learned from how others deal with their losses.”

BREANNE METCALF playing dress-up with her mother.

Challenge of Mother’s Day
For the motherless, there may be no more emotionally difficult time than Mother’s Day, when seemingly everyone is fêting moms. “The Betsey Network has brought together a community of women who lift each other up through shared empathy, which is especially important around challenging days like Mother’s Day,” states Metcalf. “Each one of us carries our loss and holds our mothers close, and the ability to immediately understand one another has brought so much relief and connection.”

The Betsey Network meets the first Wednesday of every month. A special virtual gathering in honor of Mother’s Day is planned for May. All sessions are free. For more information, go to TheBetseyNetwork.org.

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Category: People

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