This post isn’t to take away from the joy of those celebrating or being celebrated this Mother’s Day – go for it, enjoy and make the most of your time with the people you love.
But for those of you who are in the shadow-side of Mother’s Day because your mother has died, or, because your child has died, let’s talk, this post is for you.
If your mom has died …
Well, you will get through, you will. You may feel alone in it, so let me encourage you to invite her in to the day. Find ways of reminding yourself of her, embracing the person she was, and allowing yourself the time and space to be happy and sad, memory-filled and nostalgic.
- Share a picture of you and your mom on Facebook with a favorite story or a key lesson she taught you.
- Cook or bake some of her favorite foods and enjoy them while watching a movie she loved.
- Take a walk and think about all that she passed on to you, and the ways you are like her, good and bad : )
- Visit your mom’s grave and leave something for her, some flowers, her favorite Starbucks coffee, something that makes you both smile.
- If you are having a meal with lots of family, take time to pause and give a toast to your mother. Setting aside even as little a time as 30 seconds to honor someone adds a gravity, beauty, and meaning to a meal and shares it to everyone gathered with you.
If your child has died …
How do you pick up the pieces of yourself as a woman, a mother, a person broken by pain? Perhaps you are still mothering your other children or you lost the only child you have; I need to tell you this; you have not failed as a mom, this loss was not your fault. And, you are still a mom; nothing can change that. You are changed as you enfold this huge loss into your life and though you will never be the same, you are not less.
So, how in the world do you face Mother’s Day when you are missing the little babe that made you “mom”?
This is a much different type of grief than losing our own mothers, mostly and quite simply because it does not happen to everyone. Losing a child is something no one should have to endure. These griefs are complicated by the spectrum of circumstances that grieving parents find themselves in; a pregnancy that miscarries within the first few weeks, a stillborn baby delivered at full term, a 2 year old who dies in an accident, a SIDS death that will leave you wondering “if I had just (fill in the blank) …” for the rest of your life.
To you moms, I offer this: Think long and hard about what you need on Sunday. What is going to be the best path for you in getting through the day. The ideas below may bring more pain than comfort to some of you, take what you like and leave the rest. None of these ideas will be easy and they will not make your pain go away, but they may help you look at your pain and talk to it a little easier.
- Write out your child’s name. Write it as many times as you want and maybe put down a few words to them about anything, how you’re feeling today, what you remember most about them, what you imagine they would be doing today if they were here, etc…
- Reach out to other moms who have lost a child. You don’t have to do more than send a text message saying, “I’m thinking of you and (insert their child’s name) today and wanted you to know you are on my heart.”
- Walk the beach or go to a park, seek out some solitude (note: you will likely see children playing, be prepared or if that’s too much for you, try to venture places that will give you more privacy). The real key to this one is to give yourself a calming space to think, to feel, and to be present in the reality of your life and loss.
- Look forward. I feel conflicted writing this one but I think it has some importance. Because the loss of a child is in so many ways the loss of the future we can often become absorbed or obsessed with only looking back into the time they were a part of our lives. Spend time looking back, it’s not bad or wrong, it’s part of grief. But I would encourage you to dare to look forward, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, at what this year, the next 5, the next 10 years may hold for you. There is a lot of life ahead; look for ways to carry your little one with you into the future – it’s not the way you planned it, but it’s something you can do, if you choose.
Sons & daughters, moms & dads, these pains are tremendous and deserve so much more than a little blog could ever offer. I wish all of you a day brimming with memories, peace, and the comfort of being loved. May your Mother’s Day be meaningful and rich in the memories of those you are missing <3