Natasha Richardson's Death Leaves Moms Mourning

Filed under: In The News, New In Pop Culture

Natasha RichardsonActress Natasha Richardson's death has left us all stunned. Richardson, 45, suffered a head injury earlier this week while skiing at a resort outside of Montreal. Her family brought her back to New York City on Tuesday, and yesterday announced that she had passed away.

Richardson, who was married to actor Liam Neeson, was taking a beginner ski lesson with her sons, Micheál, 13, and Daniel, 12, when she fell and hit her head. She was not wearing a helmet, but by all accounts, her fall was not dramatic. "It was a normal fall; she didn't hit anyone or anything," a resort spokeswoman said. "She didn't show any signs of injury. She was talking and she seemed all right."

As my mom friends keep saying, it's just so sad.

Richardson's death is shocking for so many reasons; first, it is a reminder of the potential consequences of even the smallest risks, like not wearing a helmet while skiing. Last night, my friend Kristin, a single mom and avid snowboarder, Twittered, "'I'm old school, baby' is no longer a valid excuse. Going to get a snowboarding helmet after work." Kristin and I grew up in a generation where helmets on the ski slopes were unheard of; before we were moms, we scoffed at the idea of wearing one. But now, the death of one mom makes us think twice.

Liam Neeson and Natasha RichardsonRichardson's death is also startling because she was having a normal mom day when she fell; she was vacationing with her sons, and sharing a ski lesson, on a beginner slope. Most of the moms I know tend to think of things we do with our kids as safe -- or if we worry, we worry about them, not about us. We never think that taking the kids skiing -- or skating or cycling or any of those other healthy, fun things we do with our children -- might be fatal. We never think that we will be injured in front of our kids.

And then there is Richardson's husband, Irish actor Liam Neeson. He and Richardson married in 1994, and by all accounts had a happy, healthy relationship. Neeson was in Toronto this week, filming a movie, like so many husbands who travel for work; he raced to Montreal when he heard about Richardson's accident. It is incredibly hard to think about him going home to his sons, without their mother, and trying to pick up the pieces and move on. For many of us, it is difficult to imagine suddenly being the only parent, without a partner to lean on or consult with. We assume, when a spouse leaves on a business trip, that all will be well, because how could it not be? What would we do if it weren't?

Natasha Richardson was the type of celebrity we love; she was beautiful and successful and talented. If her life made us a little envious, her death has left us terribly sad, not because of her celebrity but because she was a mom and a wife, and, really, because of the simple, mundane nature of her injury. It's not what we expect, what we plan for, as parents.

"I had my boys 18 months apart," Richardson once said. "Of course, we didn't plan on having back-to-back babies. But life almost never goes according to plan."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.