by Caroline Jefferson
“On Mother’s Day, I can’t think of anyone more deserving than the one who had to give her child back to God.” -Erma Bombeck
A few years ago, my therapist asked me what the hardest part of losing my son was, and my answer was simple:
re-planning the rest of my life without him physically here.
You see, by keeping my son cherished in my heart, all I can do is hold on to the loving memories from my pregnancy. That’s what keeps me going on the days that I’d rather be with him in Heaven.
I think back to him, kicking me every time he heard his daddy’s voice, and squirming around when I sang (off-key) to him.
To my fellow mothers who grieve the loss of their precious babies and children, I love all of you. We have been placed in a club that we didn’t ask to be in.
I asked God so many times, why me? Why did I get stripped of the one thing I was so honored and blessed to carry for 39 weeks?
Then I was quickly reminded that God gives his hardest battles to his toughest soldiers.
As we quickly approach Mother’s Day, I can undoubtedly say that watching the world celebrate mothers who have living children doesn’t make me feel like a hardened soldier.
Often, I just feel weak and depressed and isolated.
On my first Mother’s Day, I couldn’t even get out the bed. This heartache of me longing for my son overpowered any urge I had to eat, shower, go out, or talk to people. I was smelly and miserable, crying all day long.
My tribe was so worried about me, and even I didn’t know if I’d come out of that emotional rut.
People warned that the first one would be hard. They failed to share any advice to help me get through the day.
I had to figure that out on my own, and it wasn’t fun at all.
Here’s what I learned after my first Mother’s Day without my precious son
The loss of my baby doesn’t make me any less of a mother.
Your journey as a mother still counts. Your angel matters, and you deserve to be honored as a mother if you so choose. Everyone may not celebrate with you, and that’s okay.
The world doesn’t validate your motherhood.
I carried my son for 39 weeks, and no one can tell me that that doesn’t make me a mother.
Think about what you need and communicate that with your support system.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past was setting high expectations for how I wanted a milestone day (like Mother’s Day or his birthday) to play out but didn’t tell anyone what I needed.
I just expected them to read my mind and know what I wanted because that’s exactly how life works, right?
Tell your tribe what you want or need, even if it doesn’t include them.
Do you want to be left alone for the day? Do you prefer breakfast in bed, followed by dinner at your favorite restaurant? Do you think it’s better to wait until the day and see how you feel?
Whatever you choose, however you want to acknowledge Mother’s Day, communicate that with the people that care about you.
You are not grieving alone, even though it might feel like it.
The loss of a baby can be hard for those around you – your parents, your spouse, your closest friends.
One year on my son’s birthday, I found my mom reading her devotional bible before breakfast. I asked her what she was reading, and she replied, “a prayer of comfort,” with tears falling from her beautiful face.
At that very moment, I realized that I wasn’t the only one still living with the pain of losing my son.
I shared that story to say – don’t hesitate to talk to people who may be hurting with you. Its comforting to know that you aren’t alone in your pain, and for me, sometimes simply talking about my son and my memories with him gives me the comfort I need.
Know your grief triggers and avoid them at all costs.
Confession: I stopped going out to eat on Mother’s Day because when the waiter asks, “Who’s celebrating Mother’s Day today?”
I’m overtaken by this awkward feeling when I want to proudly announce myself as a mother even though the rest of the table doesn’t instinctively consider me one.
I understand that everyone doesn’t think about me when they think about motherhood because I don’t have a living child, and that’s okay.
What’s not okay is knowing how that situation makes me feel but still forcing myself to endure it just to be in the company of others.
Going to the mall around this time of year is another trigger for me. There’s just something about me seeing these kids with their moms, or watching men shop for their wives or girlfriends, or co-parenting partners.
It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also a brutal reminder that my son isn’t here shopping with his dad or picking out a card for me.
Honestly, finding the best way to handle your first Mother’s Day and the ones to follow will truly come from trial and error; you just have to find the right things for you that year.
I don’t believe in the saying, “time heals all wounds,” but I do believe that over time, you learn the best ways to cope with that pain.