The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Killer's Mother

I’m reluctant to admit this, but my sorrow over the horror at the shootings at Virginia Tech keeps forcing these thoughts to the front of my mind. My sadness for the victims is overwhelming and my heart breaks when I think of the families they left behind. I can’t imagine a worse fate than being the mother of a murdered child.

Except, perhaps being the mother of that child’s killer.

I’m not sure it’s okay to admit this, but my sympathy lies with the killer’s mother, too.

It’s hard to imagine what she must be going through. Her child is dead. Though many would say he deserves to be, his parents are nonetheless facing the grief of his unexpected and violent end. And worse – the knowledge that he killed before he died. That he murdered explosively. That he destroyed so many lives and ruined the futures of whole families forever scarred by his one day of deliberate horror. That he put himself in the record books.

As a mother, I can’t help but reel at the pain that shooter brought to so many other mothers. And yet, I’m saddened as well by the knowledge that the one he may have hurt most was his own. A mother who must have known how sick her son was, how unhappy. She must have struggled to find ways to help him and agonized over her failure to do so.

My own family has been touched by mental illness. I know first hand how hard it is to reach someone who is ill and how nearly impossible it is to get them off the streets even when you know their sickness has twisted them into something foreign and horrible.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if my siblings and I weren’t able finally to force our mother into a hospital where she received treatment that now controls her symptoms. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the young man who became the Virginia Tech shooter had been similarly forced into treatment.

I’m sure his mother wonders that as well. She’ll probably wonder it all of her life. The question – what else could I have done? – will haunt her because she doesn’t stop being a mother just because her child committed a horrible crime.

And for that, the shooter’s mother has my pity.

By Laura-Lynne Powell

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