This is my 3rd Mother’s Day. The third I have spent with empty arms and the first Mother’s Day I will have ever celebrated. Motherhood is complicated, so is Mother’s Day as a bereaved mum. Everyone has a different Mother’s Day normal and for me this year is all about finding mine.
Mother’s Day is not for everyone as it is commercially sold, full of flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed and happiness. It is easy to forget the heartache that lies behind the day for some. Bereaved mothers know both the depth of a mother’s love and heartache, which intensifies on days like these.
It is impossible to know what Mother’s Day feels like as bereaved Mother or parent without experiencing it. Mother’s Day is a difficult day, no matter how far or close the bereavement. The day brings a hurt that nothing can relieve. But from one Mother to another, Mother’s Day is something we can face, we can survive. We can empower the world to understand what Mother’s Day means to us.
Mother’s Day for me, reminds me of many things. Firstly It reminds me of my biggest fear, that with each passing year my babies may be being forgotten. I think this is a primal fear all bereaved parents share. It reminds me that my children died and that largely people see my motherhood as lesser and misunderstood. It reminds me of the futures I lost with the death of each of my children. And as a young parent it reminds me how isolating it is to be a young bereaved parent.
Remembering my children on Mother’s Day as a bereaved mum
Mother’s Day reminds me that my children existed, it reminds me of our memories and the ever growing legacy of my darling three. It also reminds me how much my children have changed me. I am a better person because of them. I continue to work on accepting the ways I have changed from who I used to be before my children died.
Mother’s Day will always be a bitter sweet day for me. And whatever happens in the future it will always be a difficult day to face. I will always have an emptiness that rightly, no one can fill. It has taken me a long time to understand this. But I know every bereaved mother has their own story to tell in coming to accept Mother’s Day.
This year I am proud to feel in a position to accept and believe that Mother’s Day is still a day for me. I’m able to see through the fog of grief that Mother’s Day is still a celebration for me as a bereaved parent. For the longest time I thought Mother’s Day was only for those with living children.
I’m not sure why, but like many parts of being in a different mum’s club I just didn’t feel like it could be my day anymore. How could it have been? Particularly when my motherhood was then so different to the one I had expected. It is incredible the things that grief and partly how the world treats bereaved parents makes you think and if no one tell you any different who do you know.
Mother’s Day as a bereaved young parent
I think this is a particular issue for young bereaved parents. I will be forever grateful to the Mother who sat me down and told me all of the reasons why Mother’s Day is still my day too. So I want to say today to any Mother who is unsure if today is still your day too, from me to you. Of course today is and will always be your day.
It is just like so much after loss trying to find what the day means to you and it has its own journey. I have gone from not being able to face Mother’s Day, to thinking it wasn’t my day, to realising it was, to celebrating my motherhood today. Even in the last year I have come a long way.
Last Mother’s Day my twin sons had just died. I still didn’t believe they were gone. I didn’t think a year on, I would still have empty arms. Last year Mother’s Day also fell around an anniversary of my daughter’s too. When it was all added together was just too much to celebrate last year. I tried so hard to avoid Mother’s Day last year. I actually missed it and didn’t realise till the Monday. But that allowed me to cope with the coming of the day, then I was still very much in the early stages of gently just surviving.
What it felt like at first
I am sure every bereaved mother has a story to tell like this one of mine from those early days. But this year I feel, with the help of a few other bereaved mothers, far more comfortable in how this day is mine and how to face it. I feel so grateful to have other mothers who have continued to share their advice or experiences to help me find my new normal. Through them I have learned the best way to face such days is with no expectations.
So I may be sad, I may be unsociable. And I may need to hide or I may need to take time out for me, or cry in a quiet place, or I may be okay. I might be all of the above within the same set of five minutes. Ultimately I have found the best thing to do is to follow my grief, to ask those around me to feel how I feel and to follow in my lead.
Mother’s Day as a bereaved mum is complicated
For me Mother’s Day brings such a complex mix of emotions. I feel incredibly proud to be a mother. I feel such a joy to think of my children who gave me my title. Also I feel grateful for the time we had together, the memories we are able to continue to make and thankful for them. But on the other side, the pain of missing my children the three biggest parts of my world is indescribable.
I miss my children every day and that will never change. My grief will never leave me, but why should it. Living with grief is part of daily life as a bereaved mother and Mother’s Day is no different. We can support bereaved mothers this Mother’s Day and acknowledge just how much love lies behind that grief. As I always say, where there is great love there is incredible grief.
Being brave on Mother’s Day as a bereaved mum
So this Mother’s Day I will be brave. Despite the road it has taken to get here and who cares what the rest of the world thinks, this Mother’s Day is mine to celebrate too. This Mother’s Day I will buy myself a card (because no one else will). I will buy some tulips just because and find a beach to leave my children’s names in the sand. I will never have the Mother’s Days I dreamed about. But it will always be a day for me to be proud of the three tiny people I brought into this world, however brief their stay.
For those who are not bereaved but reading along, the best gift you can give a bereaved mother this Mother’s Day and forever, is your acknowledgment. Never forget to acknowledge that she is a mother, or her child.
This Mother’s Day, you are not alone. You are in my thoughts. As I say my children’s names out loud, I am thinking of you as you do the same. Mother’s Day is a day for all mums. Mother’s Day is for us all, we are all mums whether our babies can be with us or not.
Happy Mother’s Day to us all.
Airley, Freddy and Thomas’s Mummy xxx
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