Mother’s Day in a Year of Challenge and Change


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I spoke with a bereaved mother recently and I was moved by her perspective on life right now. While many of us are impacted by the pandemic, she said she gives it very little thought, if any. Her thoughts are with her recently deceased child. Her tears flow often, but not for a job loss, or a loss of the ability to go where she wants to go, when she wants to go. Instead, her focus is singular and very sad. She cannot imagine a happier time in the future. She feels great pain, but she is also grateful that she is not particularly concerned about the impact of illness or consumed by the rest of the world right now. As the days, months and years pass, this perspective will be one of the earliest gifts she will remember receiving from her little one. We receive much from our children, and healing can be the ability to see and feel those gifts as they appear.

Mother’s Day is challenging for those of us who are mothers of babies gone too soon, or for mothers who are impacted by the pain of infertility. This day can be filled with sorrow, even when we have surviving children. It can be a day of tremendous isolation. And while it is difficult, it is not impossible to celebrate and acknowledge all of our children on this day. Even after a pregnancy loss or infant death, we remain mothers for the rest of our lives. Finding a way to honor and remember your child, when family and friends cannot or do not, is critical. Lighting a candle, buying or planting flowers, talking to a trusted friend, keeping a journal, attending a church service, visiting your child’s grave, taking time to cry, are all ways to acknowledge the day. Give yourself permission to simultaneously celebrate and grieve if you need to do both. Be especially kind to yourself. While others who do not understand, tell us to move on, or while those who cannot acknowledge our grief, remain silent, we can choose to celebrate Mother’s Day in any way that is possible and meaningful to us.

I hope you can all find ways to acknowledge, with love and with pride, that you belong to this day.

This poem, by e.e. cummings, was one of my father’s favorite poems. He loved it before, and especially after the death of my brother at the age of 34 years. He sent me a copy one year, to let me know he was celebrating all his grandchildren on Mother’s Day that year.

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me
i carry it in my heart
i am never without it
anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling

i fear no fate for you are my fate, my sweet
i want no world for beautiful you are my world, my true and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart
i carry it in my heart

Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust

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