A Mother's Day Amid Grief: Darice Otto

The last time Darice Otto took a photo of her daughter Roseanna was Mother's Day 2019.

Just a few short weeks later, on May 27, her daughter passed away.

Darice recalls the night her daughter was shot and killed. Roseanna, 23, and her three girls lived right across the street with Darice's mother.

"My husband and I were in bed and there was a knock on the door," she says. "It was my mom and when I answered she said, 'I think he shot her.'"

When her husband came to the door, Darice realized what her mother was saying and ran to the house next door to find her daughter had been shot and killed. 

 "Roseanna and I shared a very close relationship," Darice says. "We saw each other every day.. on two occasions we even worked at the same care centers. We ended every conversation with an I love you and be safe if on phone and when in person it was a hug, I love you and be safe." 

Following Roseanna's death, Darice and her family found EveryStep Grief & Loss Services' Amanda the Panda program and support groups.

They first learned of the program after receiving a Cheer Box.

"I like the fact that it was a whole family approach as we have Roseanna's three girls," Darice said. "I'm not one to do things that are just for me, but I knew that I needed to do something so I signed us up for the next available session."

Since then, she's been active in both support groups in person and more recently the online support group.

"By joining Amanda the Panda, I was hoping that it would be a way for me to talk about what I had been through and it was that and so much more for me," Darice says. "The compassion and care that everyone showed was amazing to me and the feeling of you are not alone was a huge help to me."

While the spring session of Amanda the Panda's Braving Grief trauma support group was transitioned to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Darice has stayed active on the online group and plans to return to in-person support groups when they resume.

Now, as her first Mother's Day without Roseanna approaches, Darice says the normally happy, family-filled day feels partially empty.

"Mother's Day in our family has always been a big deal," she says. "We have a big family get-together."

Darice recalls her final Mother's Day with Roseanna with love.  

"I was taking pictures of everybody and happened to take one of her taking a bit of food," she says. "Instantly, she says, 'Mother, you better not put that on Facebook.' I did, of course."

This Mother's Day, Darice will remember her daughter. She and her family plan to visit Clark Tower in Winterset to release a purple Chinese lantern in honor of Roseanna.

While Darice prepares for Mother's Day, she wants other mothers facing a similar situation to know they aren't alone.

"Try to feel the love, not the loss," she says.