The connection between motherhood and the grave is one of those trends that likes to repeat itself through world folklore in various forms. The connection is not always pleasant; one of the earliest entries in this column is la llorona, the crying woman in white who was cursed to wander after drowning her children.
There is a story that is going around Facebook right now about a child who was rescued from a car crash. These things happen all the time, unfortunately (the crash is unfortunate, not the act being saved, by the way). The problem with the story is that the rescue crews report hearing her mother crying for help-but her mother was already dead by the time that she would have been yelling for the crews to get to her child.
I’m a skeptical believer, meaning, I do believe in the potential for life after death and I’m not ruling out ghosts. I am however one to hold the evidence to a fairly high standard-and there’s a lot to this story that I don’t believe. One of the major issues I have with this story is that this is already a well established folkloric theme.
One of the most common variations on the ghost mother and the crash legends has the ghost of the mother actually being seen. There is a variation featured on Paranormal Witness where the ghost, oddly, is naked-I love that show but I’ve always thought that was a weird editorial choice. Modern versions of the legend center around cars and car crashes, though there’s no reason to think that the legend doesn’t have other crashes or accidents at their center; however, I think that cars are especially common since the crash is normally smaller and more ‘personal’ in that it would be easier for a witness to be brought to the crash site as opposed to say, a plane crash, which would be larger and much more visible.
However, variations of this legend do extend back before the rise of automobile culture with roots found in multiple traditions. The mother would appear to clergy, doctors, or other members of the authorities, lead them back to their child, and then disappear-only to be found dead at the site. Some versions are even more connected to the grave-the parent was dead for -years- before appearing to the priest; I have read some versions where the fact that a woman a priest had buried a decade earlier appeared on his doorstep was the reason he decided to follow through with her request.
I’m not claiming that the rescue crews didn’t hear anything. I do think though that there’s a part of us that may want these things to happen more than they actually do happen.