I recently came across a friend requesting prayers for a family in her community. When asked about what happened she shared the news that the family’s oldest child, a 5 year old boy, had died the day before.
As I read through the shock wave of reactions and felt my own sorrow and nausea overwhelm me, and then I realized that Mother’s Day was just 8 days away for this poor mother. While she has 2 other children who will wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day” there will be a horrible emptiness where that other sweet little voice should be.
I’ve heard from many moms sharing in support group settings (if they lost their only child) how they still feel like a mom – that’s because they still are a mom. The absence of the child doesn’t change the identity of the parent – once a mom, always a mom. It’s the same when a parent dies, we don’t cease being sons or daughters, the connection doesn’t disappear even though it can feel like it does.
I feel that this blog has a responsibility to hear the voices of those who find Mother’s Day painful. This blog is dedicated to those who have lost a mother or a child, to those who have suffered through years of infertility and to those who’s mother-child relationships are strained and painful.
Mother’s Day isn’t always easy to celebrate, but it is good. It’s good to remember, to revisit times of hope, of freedom from worry, perhaps the days of our youths when “Mom” was a heavenly word that promised a bandaid for that cut knee or a hug after a hard day.
I am reminded of a story I heard recently from Doug Manning, a new friend of mine. He writes about woman in his congregation who’s 18 month old child died unexpectedly of what seemed like a normal case of the croup. Doug writes,
“I have always thought she was brilliance under pressure. Her statement was a flash of insight in a time of darkness – a flash of insight which ultimately changed my career and my life . . .
The young mother was crying hysterically. It is strange that we cannot allow tears. Nothing is more natural than to cry. Nothing gets as quick a reaction from us as someone crying out of control Everyone there that night began to react:
“There, there – now get a hold of yourself.”
“You can’t carry on like this.”
“Come on now – stop crying.”
Suddenly she stopped, stepped back, looked at them and said,
I hope this philosophy can be a part, as you need it to be, of your Mother’s Day and a part of your life. If you need the day, a few hours, 10 minutes to have your grief, have it. Take it, you deserve it.
I also want to encourage you to tell stories, relive happier times, and find pieces of happiness to hold on to. Maybe even make time to honor those you are missing with some practices you can share with others.
As you are gathered together with your family, propose a toast to your loved one, share a memory you treasure about them and invite others to share their memories as well. The conversation may eventually move off topic, but stories will be shared, the name of your loved one will be heard, and you will be reminded of the precious fact that they haven’t been forgotten. They existed.
Wishing all of you, a meaningful Mother’s Day.
*to learn more about Doug’s story, read his book Don’t Take My Grief Away From Me
|| what do you think?
– Have you ever had a Mother’s Day that was unlike any other? Changed by a loss or broken relationship?
– What ways have you remembered those people that are missing from your family gathering?
– What do you think about Doug’s story? Have you ever felt like that poor mother?