Mother’s Day Walk for Peace helps moms cope with loss of children to violence

BOSTON — Moms all over the world have a holiday dedicated just to them, but for some, Mother’s Day is a reminder their children aren’t here to celebrate them.

The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute honors those women through the annual “Mother’s Day Walk for Peace” in Dorchester. The event is meant to empower thousands of survivors impacted by trauma and grief as they march the streets of Boston promoting peace.

Boston 25 News reporter Brea Douglas sat down with some of those moms about how Mother’s Day affects them as they grieve the loss of their children who were killed.

“My daughter’s name is Sharrice Perkins. She was my only daughter, and she was just a strong believer of, like, social justice,” says Angela Francis.

“My son’s name is Andrew, but we called him Drew. He was just from the very beginning, even as a baby and toddler, just a very sensitive, just a really sensitive soul, very loving,” says Deborah Donahue-Keegan.

“My son Matt was the oldest of my five children. People called him an old soul,” says Shannon Tangherlini.

Angela Francis, Shannon Tangherlini, and Deborah Donahue-Keegan are members of a club no one wants to join: all mothers grieving the loss of their children who were murdered as young adults.

“There were two perpetrators and what they did was so heinous and brutal. I see what the impact is on our family,” says Donahue-Keegan.

Boston 25 News asked the moms, “Does the saying ‘time heals all wounds’ apply to you or do you think time never heals the wounds?”

“With time you’re a new person. I’m a new person. I carry my son with me all the time,” says Tangherlini.

“Grief is always there; it is not linear. You think you are well on the healing path and there can be a memory or something that makes you feel like you slipped right back,” says Donahue-Keegan.

Boston 25 News: “Speaking of grief and healing, what are some of the ways that helps you through it?”

“The biggest thing is, like I said, it’s the double Dutch. You know, she learned to jump when she was about twelve. That is one of the biggest things that keeps me going is that legacy that we have,” says Francis.

“Making a conscious decision to choose love, to choose compassion, even though it’s so much just my heart hurts,” says Donahue-Keegan.

Their journey to healing began at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester. It is a center serving grieving families and communities impacted by murder and trauma.

“I feel like it is a comfortable blanket or something,” says Francis.

On the day Boston 25 News spoke with the women, Clementina Chéry encouraged them to use toys to process their emotions. Clementina started the Peace Institute after her own child was murdered in 1993.

“Say what principal you selected that is your strength and which principal that you selected that you are struggling with,” says Chéry.

“I am struggling with forgiveness. I put the bridge in there and so maybe if I keep up the hope then I will be able to go over there and forgive,” says Francis.

These moms tell Boston 25 News that Mother’s Day comes with mixed emotions. They say they like to mark this day by participating in the annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

“We did it every year which I find a little ironic that now I am walking for her,” says Francis.

“For me, it’s a way of healing. It is thousands of us gathering together walking for our loved ones and for peace,” says Tangherlini.

Three women who never met before this conversation are now bonded through grief and tattoos in remembrance of their children.

“The whole time was just imagining Drew like ‘Mom oh whoa I never thought you would get a tattoo!” says Donahue-Keegan.

The love of these mothers knows no bounds.

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