Grieving with Hope on Mother’s Day

I have traveled six trips around the calendar since my son died. That’s “celebrating” six Mother’s Days without him. This Sunday will be my seventh Mother’s Day without Matt. Seven. I had seven children. I HAVE seven children. Oh, how my grateful heart aches. Grateful for these six children that remain. Grateful for sixteen precious years with my Mateo. It isn’t easy offering a sacrifice of praise, I can tell you that. But I refuse to give death one more thing. I refuse to become bitter.

Yet Mother’s Day is a paradox for the bereaved. Grief and gratitude often swirl in the heart like oil and water –seemingly incompatible. Sorrow weighs like oil, heavy and thick. But gratitude, like water, brings refreshment and life. How do we, who grieve, swallow these two when we feel as if our throats are closed? These holidays become like crushed red- hot peppers, burning the throat and tongue as we gulp down this, oh, so painful day. We fear we will choke on this recipe of life without our beloved.

The delicate blend of grief and gratitude is a learned skill. Grief, too much in the beginning, overpowers. However, as we learn to sprinkle gratitude on this mixed bag of holidays, the bitterness slowly dissipates. Slices of thankfulness tossed in become sweet reprieves to the distaste of this day. Gratefulness for the moments, however short, we had with our precious loved one becomes the sweet sauce that flavors this horrible dish of loss. Slowly we find that gratitude and grief can indeed coexist on this plate of sorrow. They sit at the table, not as enemies, but as teachers to us. We learn much from both.

This seventh Mother’s Day without my son has taught me that I can, indeed, survive. It reminds me that I have much to be thankful for. It reminds me that I am still a mother even if my child has died. Death does not get to take away the gift of motherhood, for once we become a mother, we are always a mother. Death can steal my child, but it can never steal my love. On Mother’s Day, and every holiday, our grief will burn a little hotter, but love is the bucket of water that pours out, rushing over the flames. This Mother’s Day, I will grieve. But I will also love, and with a fierce love, I will remember that I am loved fiercely. I am loved every second of every day, and love will see me through every second of these days which rotate around this blue planet of ours.

Our God is a God who loved us to death. He loved us with all of His life. Every breath. He loved us then, and He loves us now. He never stops loving. And neither will we.

The gentlest of Mother’s Day to you, friends. May your love multiply. May it abound and overwhelm. You are loved.

(Posted to the Grievingwithhope Facebook page)





Mother’s Day for the bereaved mother

Ann Voskamp wrote a profoundly moving post for Mother’s Day: The most life-changing thing a woman can do for herself this Mother’s Day…What a mother really wants. It’s powerful and truthful and speaks to probably every mother on this big, amazing planet.

But after reading it, I found myself thinking, “No. No, that’s not all what every mother wants.” Because, for bereaved mothers, Mother’s Day is painful. Mother’s Day is just another public, neon-flashing sign that declares “Your child is not here!” It is salt to an open wound.

What does every bereaved mother really want?

They wanted to be out-lived by their child(ren).

Ann’s right, however. Every mother needs a “truckload of Grace.” Especially the bereaved mother.

Friends, this Mother’s Day, will you remember the mother whose child is no longer here? Will you give the best Mother’s Day gift you can give to a bereaved mom?

Speak their child’s name. Talk about them. Ask her about him/her. Acknowledge that Mother’s Day is hard for her. Tell her she is still a mother.

The hardest thing about Mother’s Day for a bereaved mom? Their child is gone.

The best thing about Mother’s Day for the bereaved mom? Love remains.

And their love for their child yearns to be recognized this Mother’s Day, every Mother’s Day. Give the bereaved mother grace this weekend. Pray for God’s grace to overwhelm her. It doesn’t matter if she has other children. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 30 years since her child died. I can guarantee you she still loves that child, still misses that child, still longs to celebrate Mother’s Day with that child. She’s not being ungrateful for what she has. She’s not “stuck” in the past. She’s doing what she does best for that child: loving him/her.

This Mother’s Day it’s okay to tell the bereaved mother, “Happy Mother’s Day…to all of your children.”


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