It’s the day before Mothers Day and I feel compelled to share some thoughts before some of you send awkward wishes to mothers who have lost a child.
Let me begin by giving context for this post.
Last year was the first Mothers Day following the loss of my daughter, Hilary. While I was quite cognizant of its significance, I intended to spend the day the same way I had in previous years; going to church, a place where moms are joyously celebrated and acknowledged. But before I was even out of bed that morning, my social media feeds and text messages were flooded with well-intentioned messages that began with, “I know today is going to be hard…” or ” You must be feeling….” Really? Respectfully, I must say that unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you don’t know what I’m feeling.
I know you all meant well in acknowledging my loss, but in truth, it gutted me. I hadn’t forgotten that Hilary was gone; I’m reminded of it daily. So, instead of getting ready for church, I waved the white flag and crawled back under the covers.
I still have a reason to celebrate, friends. Even though he lives on the other side of the country, I have a son. We talk almost daily, and most recently, like so many others during the Great Isolation of 2020, we’ve taken to using video chats . Some of our conversations are mundane, like talking about his fish tanks or my work-day. In others, one or both of us are fighting off tears as we navigate a life without his sister/best friend, and my daughter, Hilary. There have been times when we’ve hung up on one another in frustration. But most days, I get to tell Cameron how proud I am of him; I get to remind him that he’s an amazingly talented young man, and an incredible father to his two young sons. There are days when he revives my soul with affirmation that I’m a good mama. These are the hallmarks of parenthood.
You see, I’m still a mother.
So, as Mothers Day looms on the horizon, let me share some advice for how to approach me and other mamas whose motherhood has been altered, if not changed completely:
Please don’t send “helpful” articles on how we, as bereaved mothers feel, or how we should navigate this emotional day. We already know; we’ve been doing it since the moment we lost our child.
Don’t over-think the message. Simply send us the same wishes you’d like to receive. How we respond is up to us. Maybe we’ll tear up. Perhaps we’ll be resentful. Then again, maybe we’ll just smile. You’re not responsible for any of our responses.
On Mothers Day and on any other day of the year, don’t be afraid to say our child’s name. We love hearing their name mentioned in a fond or funny memory. The idea that speaking of our loved one will cause pain is a fallacy. Actually, the opposite is true.
I have friends for whom Mothers Day is going to look different, painful or bittersweet. You know who you are. To you, I say:
I see you. I honour you. I celebrate your willingness to keep going.
Happy Mothers Day. You are an awesome Mama.