A friend recently told me that she does not celebrate holidays. She had suffered much loss over the previous two years and felt that she no longer had any energy left for anything other than the most necessary aspects of life. While I thought this was shocking, and my heart went out to her, I realized we all get to choose how we live with grief.
Holidays take on a very different light after the death of a baby. For me, it means privately grieving more intensely, but simultaneously feeling gratitude and great love for my children and the traditions I cherish. It has meant re-evaluating Mother’s Day.
Like many bereaved parents, I have a love/hate relationship with this particular day. Some years are very sad and very bittersweet. Some years, there is tremendous happiness. Mother’s Day is a day of contrasts; the joyful parents and children celebrating and the bereaved families trying to build new lives from seemingly endless sorrow.
There is no one ‘right’ way to observe Mother’s Day. Every year brings challenges that we, as mothers, work hard to address. And that is the key. We are mothers. We deserve to celebrate our children in life while also honoring our children in memory. We deserve to speak about them, show pictures if we are lucky enough to have them, and to be angry, sad, grateful, prayerful and resentful. We deserve to share tears and to also share joy.
I hope this Mother’s Day is a kind one. I know our memories and our babies have changed our lives forever, and ultimately in ways that bless us. And for new families, in the early and very devastating stages of grief, I hope you can feel loved, cared for and cherished by friends, family members, fellow mothers and fathers in Rainbow, and by the knowledge that we are mothers every single day.
My hope is also that on this Mother’s Day we can give ourselves the gifts of tenderness, compassion and hope…that we can do whatever it takes to not only make it through a potentially difficult day, but to also celebrate our children with love and remembrance.