Last week, I was reading an article on one of my favorite, light-hearted blogs entitled, “9 Gifts for Mother’s Day.”
Since I’m always stumped over what to get my mom (beyond the usual flowers and a card), I read through the suggestions.
A pink umbrella… a cashmere sweater…. pearl earrings….. A kimono robe.
None of those sounded at all like my mom, so I was ready to move on. Then: I read through the readers’ comments at the end of the blog. One, in particular, caught my attention.
A brave woman wrote: “My mother just died in December. It was a long, slow painful decline the last five years of her life. Now, Mother’s Day is especially hard. I wish there was a way to block all the ads etc. about Mother’s Day. They feel like they make my grief even worse.”
Wow, I could so relate. Since I’m also grieving a motherhood-related loss right now, I realized that I, too, feel like I’m being punched in the gut everytime I see something about Mother’s Day. And I know I’m most certainly not alone.
Those of us who find Mother’s Day hard need empathic spaces where we can feel less estranged in our grief. We’re a community who lives in cultural shadow, and we, too, need to have voices, community support, and ways to honor our losses beyond our isolated suffering.
A few days ago a friend sent me an article from The Huffington Post called “The Importance of International Bereaved Mother’s Day.” This took place on May 7 this year, and annually falls one week before Mother’s Day.
The author, whose son Zachary was born–and died– at thirty weeks gestation, declared the truth that “motherhood is complicated.” Since not every pregnancy or initiation into motherhood has a happy ending, this holiday, she writes, “is a day for any parent who has lost a child, and, in particular, it honors mothers who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or any type of pregnancy and infant loss.”
If your heart is hurting today, please know that you’re not alone.
If you’re grieving:
- The loss of your mother
- The fact that you never knew your mother
- An illness your mother is going through
- An illness that you, as a mother, are going through
- An illness or struggle your child is going through
- A complicated relationship with your mother or child
- A divorce or breakup of a family
- The loss of a child/children
- The fact that you’re beyond your childbearing years and never had a child/children
- The fact that you’re in your childbearing years and still deeply long for a child/children
- Something I haven’t listed here
…..here are 9 things you can do if Mother’s Day is hard for you.
- Send a beautiful flower arrangement to yourself.
- Write in your journal about what motherhood means to you. What are the ways that you do–or can–mother, even if you don’t have children of your own?
- Go out for a nice meal with your closest girlfriends and share your real, uncensored feelings with one another.
- Explore ways to support a mother and/or child in need. Inquire at homeless or domestic violence shelter for volunteer opportunities. If you’re not able to lend hands-on support, find a charity to donate to.
- Enact a ritual for your deceased mother or child. Write him/her a letter, sharing how you’re feeling about their passing and what you miss most about them. Burn or bury the letter somewhere in nature. Incorporate flowers, music, and whatever other elements feel right to you.
- Spend the morning connecting with The Divine Mother through practicing yoga, meditation, prayer, dance, or whatever other practices lead you home to what’s sacred to you.
- Create with your hands. Paint. Bake something delicious. Plant a tree or something new in your garden.
- If you’re really struggling right now, do a “media blackout” to tune out the world’s messages about Mother’s Day. Delete social media apps from your phone and even unplug your Internet if you need to. Stay home, lounge around in your P.J.’s, call your girlfriends, read books and/or watch movies or your favorite TV shows.
- Dialogue with your Inner Little Girl and explore ways that you can better mother yourself– today, and all days. (I share ways to do this here and here.)
Above all, please remember that there’s no “right” way to celebrate Mother’s Day, or to be a mother.
If don’t feel like you fit into the conventional mold of posting pictures on Instagram of your beautiful tulip bouquet, hand drawn card from your child, and breakfast in bed served by your beloved, please know that you’re not alone.
And: if you know a woman who might be struggling today, pick up the phone and call her. She probably needs a good friend to talk to. Ask her how she’s doing today. Invite her out for a meal or to go for a walk. She may be a mother– now without a child–who still needs to be honored and loved today.
Many, many women– and men– are also finding today challenging. Whenever you need to, breathe in the remembrance of this larger community you’re a part of. We all experience loss and disappointments around motherhood– in different ways, and at different times in our lives.
The Divine Mother loves and grows each of us through seasons of fertility and fallowness, joy and grief, darkness and light. No one escapes her cycles. No matter how you might feel right now, you are never forgotten, abandoned, or left outside the embrace of the Divine Mother or the promise of another spring. Not every story has a happy ending, but we’re all given the choice to grow and learn from our pain.
Have compassion for and be gentle with yourself. You will make it through today, and whatever challenges you’re facing during this stretch of your life. You are loved and welcome here, just as you are. Always.
I’m sending a big hug to all of us: mothers, mothers-to-be, and mothers at heart.