This Sunday, the first Sunday in May, is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. Oh wait, you didn’t know? No signs in the store imploring that you “Don’t Forget the Bereaved Mom”; no “Bereaved Mother’s Day” card sections in the Hallmark store (I am not sure Hallmark stores actually still exist, but the point is still valid). I didn’t know it existed, either. It began in 2010, ten years before the death of my beautiful, vivacious daughter. I don’t know exactly how it happened. I know that a woman from Australia, Carly Marie, who suffered the loss of a stillborn son started the movement to ensure that all mothers felt supported and celebrated, whether their children were present to do so or not.
When I first heard of this day, I immediately bristled. My first thought was “I am still a mother. I do not need an alternate Mother’s Day, because I am A MOTHER.” Grief, in its very nature, is isolating. This “special” day would only stand to mark me even further as different. An anomaly. That minuscule chance that the most terrifying, horrific thing that you dare not even imagine, has happened. And observing this day meant acknowledging that I have to live for the rest of my life with a poor substitute for my daughter’s presence in my life. The consolation prize. Sorry….no heartfelt words of love, acknowledgement, appreciation from your daughter…but don’t worry, you get YOUR OWN DAY to remember exactly what you are missing.
But, as Mother’s Day approaches and I find myself dreading the adrenaline it will take to push me through that day, and then the emotional hangover that will certainly follow, as evidenced by every holiday and “first” so far this year, I am understanding this quiet, relatively unknown day for a population of wounded people who will likely mark it in quiet reverence.
With every thing I do, every thought I have, I am loving my daughter. I want to talk about her, still. Just like I talk about my other two daughters. I cry, often. At random times in random places. I have been devastated. I can’t think of a single person that I see with any regularity who hasn’t witnessed my heartbreak. It’s uncomfortable, bearing witness to that depth of pain; watching someone undergo a transformation by the fire of grief. It’s hard to watch.
But, don’t look away. Because if you have a relationship with me now, it is a genuine, honest connection, because I just don’t have room for anything else. Don’t look away. Because maybe from the experience of learning to love my daughter differently, you might be open to learning to love your kids or your friends or your family differently. Don’t look away because people need each other. I imagine the load of my sorrow will eventually change. Not go away. I will grieve the loss of Abigael for the rest of my days. I will always long for her. But in nine months, it has changed. I have changed. And maybe someday, I will be the one to simply be with another human who is figuring out how to bear their own, unique sorrows.
So, a Bereaved Mother’s Day is a day for the vulnerable to wear that vulnerability on their sleeve in hopes that it will spur on compassion. That someone will think to share a memory, to bring a dandelion bouquet, to speak her name, to not look away. That someone will, for a day, for a moment, give you the gift of your child’s life.
Tressa…………..you have been on my heart ALL DAY LONG………..and now I know why………..there is no such thing as coincidence……tonight, I open my computer to read this post. I am sending much love and continued prayers for you, and all of your family.
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You are so right, no coincidences.
Thank you Tressa For helping us to see better and to love better. Abigael loved so well and told you and others and you are expanding the picture and road to walk. Thank you. I love you.
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You are absolutely right. Abigael loved so well. I admire that about her, and I want to emulate her.