I won’t pretend to know or even understand all the situations that could make a woman grieve around the celebrations of Mother’s Day. I also won’t pretend to understand the unimaginable pain of losing a child.
For Those Grieving on Mother’s Day
What I can tell you is that I have grieved. Sometimes I still grieve, and not just on Mother’s Day—but maybe on a random Tuesday too. Like many of you, I’ve been on both sides of Mother’s Day being difficult to celebrate. I lost my mom; actually buried my mom four days before Mother’s Day 20 years ago.
I’ve also grieved because I longed to be a mother so badly. Grief would rear its ugly head at pregnancy announcements for others while I got yet another negative pregnancy test. Grief attacked with every ‘When will you start having babies?’ question. Grief ensued every Mother’s Day and the days leading up to it. For years, here I was on Mother’s Day without a mom and no children of my own.
But I didn’t stop celebrating Mother’s Day. I didn’t stay at home from church on Mother’s Day because I was sad. I didn’t stop saying (and with a smile, I might add), “Happy Mother’s Day” to sweet friends who were moms already. I didn’t stop saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to those women in my life that, now I know, were sovereignly placed there to be mother figures for me. I tried the best I could to turn my “test” into my “testimony.” Surely, all this couldn’t be for nothing?
I can’t tell you that at a snap of a finger something or someone just magically took the grief away, but I will testify that while it may not go away completely, it changes. It shapes you. It grows you. It does actually become something that you can learn to be thankful for.
Grief Isn’t the End
So, to the woman fighting back tears or anger or jealousy at Mother’s Day, here’s what I’ve learned:
Grief is an interruption, not the end.
You will heal and pieces will be put back together or rearranged. It’s ok to cry, feel weak, and all the things. It’s ok to fall apart on Mother’s Day and a random Tuesday if it hits you. Just don’t stay there.
Draw strength that only the Lord can give to get up and put your “big girl’ pants on. Draw strength from sweet memories or hopeful anticipation. Draw strength from those in your life who might not be your mom or child, but are there.
Grief happens to everyone.
It just manifests itself differently. While other women may look at your infertility or absence of a mom and think how awful and sad it is, I can promise you that those same women also have circumstances that make them grieve and that you’d want no part of.
Grief is a chance to show wisdom and growth.
Celebrate with those who are moms and have moms. They are not the enemy and they have no control over your situation. While you may think it’s not fair, it’s also not fair to withhold tribute to them for one little ol’ day out of the year.
Grief is a chance to show grace.
Have grace with those people when they say things that make you want to cringe and roll your eyes. They really don’t know what to say. They’re not trying to be mean or insensitive, even if every fiber of your body is saying otherwise. With the first negative pregnancy test or right after your mom’s funeral, people don’t sit through a seminar warning them of what and what not to say to you. They’re winging it. Be patient with them and yourself.
Look around. I can promise that there are mother figures and/or “children” most likely standing there wanting to love you or be loved by you.
I have been blessed—and I mean blessed beyond my wildest imaginations—with women who love me like their own. My dad eventually remarried and my second mom was beautifully woven into my life. My husband’s mom beautifully loves me as if she birthed me herself. That would be weird but you know what I mean.
For many years, while dealing with infertility, I had the absolute privilege of leading and “momming” literally hundreds of teenagers each year. If I had written the script for my life and stuck to it, I’d only have what my tiny brain could conceive and would have missed the opportunity to see Jehovah Jireh provide for me. He graciously has given me more than some people can handle. I don’t just have what I thought was enough. I have an abundance.
Grief has a purpose.
It’s not for nothing. I can testify that one day your mess can be turned into your message. Your test can be turned into your testimony. Before I walked the lonely journey of losing my mom and then later the long winding road of infertility, there were brave and courageous women who were on the road ahead of me. They were waiting for me to get there so they would put an arm around me and help me the rest of the way. When you’re ready, turn around and look behind you. Someone is coming.
Your grief doesn’t define you. People will not put on your tombstone “Woman who couldn’t have kids” or “Girl without a mom since May 2002.” The people in your life need you to be you.
If you’re funny, make them laugh. If you’re the bombest working woman, be the bombest working woman. If you’re a sister, be the best sister you can be. If you’re a wife, love your husband better than you ever have. (By the way, he was your first love. Don’t forget that amid your pursuit for children.) If you serve at your church, serve your heart out. If you’re an encourager, encourage away. If you’re a leader, continue leading. You get the idea.
My friend, I get it. I feel like I can call a woman reading this “friend” because walking either of these roads somehow connects our hearts almost immediately. So, friend, there is still a beautiful story being written. This grief you’re experiencing is just a chapter in the book. The best you know how on this Mother’s Day, enjoy it. Celebrate it. Embrace where you are right now and who you’re with right now. Next year could be different.
If you know someone grieving this Mother’s Day, watch this video from one our writers, Amber Koehn, to learn how you can support them: