We are reminded in Kollwitz’s etching of the most powerful bond that exists: a mother’s love for her child. Such unbridled raw emotion shows us, as barely functioning adults, that we should recognise our own capacity to mother ourselves, to give ourselves the kind of love we received in childhood, though of course that is not the case for all children.
For the loved, it is a reminder that the only person who can carry on this kind of unconditional self-care is us – the mother-child bond cannot be found outside of you, the burden of loving yourself unconditionally is now all yours.
For the latter, this etching provides us a useful insight into the depth of love we should, but often don’t, generate for ourselves. We could see the child in her arms as our own past selves, a self that is unused to receiving unconditional care, forgiveness, and patience; we can then see what it should look like to give ourselves the love a mother should give her children in her healthiest and best state, and what it should look like when she loses something as precious as you.
What we should etch into our own psyches is the truth that, when we learn to mother ourselves, the greatest loss there can be is the loss of love for yourself.