When The Day Is Not ‘Happy’
Not only is Mother’s Day around the corner, but it heralds my daughter’s 4th heavenly birthday. Both days are hard to celebrate, whether I have other children on this earth or not. The pain of losing a child, muddled with the joy of celebrating women who have children can be such a cruel sting. I know I am not the only one. I am so sorry that, like me, your baby is not here to bring you a much-deserved trinket, finger-painting, hand-made card with misspelt words of affection that you earned for loving your baby so well. I am so sorry that, like me, you are not planning your child’s parties, making invitations and blowing up balloons, picking themes and taking precious home-made videos of each milestone. I am so so sorry.
These are hard days to ‘celebrate’ when there is so much grief and heartache associated with them. Of course, it will be overwhelming at times, and at others, it will feel so numb and hollow. And waves of laughter may come in between all these feelings too. Can I urge you to feel what you must, not what is expected of you. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing or feeling what is natural to you, because that is how you honour your child and yourself.
On these days especially, I try to show care for me so I can spend more time loving her and doing what heals me. I take time away from the noise of life, maybe a drive to a scenic lookout, release balloons or throw a party, visit her resting place, cry aloud wildly, pamper a little, drink a little (or a bit more- don’t judge), have a massage. I know so many of you lovely readers have even more great ideas. Please comment with some ideas you have found comforting and healing on these difficult occasions- maybe someone in our grieving community will read it and use it!
Self-care is not self-indulgence or a pity-party. You are caring and loving the body that was the home of your beloved child, mothering the heart of the mother. ‘Celebrating’ your child’s memory in a way that brings some delight in the cherishing.
Supporting your friend on Mother’s Day or their child’s birthday
If you are reading this and you are unsure how you can help your grieving friend on these difficult days, I’d firstly like to thank you for reaching out and wanting to help- it is such a blessing to have a support person who is eager to help when all others find it too difficult. To make things easier, here are a few Do’s and Don’t’s to help you:
– Send a message to gently remind her that she is still very much loved at this difficult time and if she needs anything (company, food, space, an outing) that you are willing to help.
– Say her child’s name. You are not reminding her of her baby; she will never forget that child for as long as she lives! But I know for me, nothing brings joy to my heart faster than hearing my Lissie’s name said proudly, unashamedly, and her memory shared by more than myself.
– Consider giving a small token to remember her as a mother; it’s a lovely gesture. It can be a beautiful card, flowers, a candle, a practical voucher, or something personalised to let them know you remember.
-Listen. She has a story to tell, so much feeling, or just crazy ramblings. But if you do love her, and she loves her child, please lend an ear, even if it is nonsense.
– Visit. She may just want to be alone. Or she may want company, but just check in first.
– Ignore. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen, that it’s not a real birthday because the baby is no longer here, or that she is not also a mother. Her child dwells strongly in her heart and mind and deserves to be honoured as such.
– Compare losses or difficulties. It serves no-one to diminish their pain to signify the others.
– Try to fix it with sweeping statements. Though meant well, though she may have other children, you can’t fix her grief unless you can bring her baby back to life. Just let her know you are sorry this has happened and that you are here to help in any way.
Dear woman, your arms may be empty but your heart is full; and it is truly a mother’s heart, worthy of honour and celebration- to borrow Angela Miller’s words, you are the mother of all mothers.
Photo credit: Julia Wimmerlin, Unsplash