Mother’s Day hurts. I don’t like dwelling on the downside of death (although that may seem like a strange thing from someone who writes about grief), but the best way for me to get through every second Sunday in May is to close the blinds and hunker down in solitude.
It wasn’t always like that. As a kid I picked flowers, drew cards, and poured adulation on Mom. As a young adult, then a new bride, and eventually a mother myself I appreciated her (and my grandmas and aunts) more deeply than before. My cards and gestures of appreciation (which once seemed so grand) paled next to Mom’s lifetime of service — though my daughters’ creative endeavors for me melted my heart.
After Mom died, Mother’s Day went dark. I still went to church that day, but mostly for my children’s sakes. (I wanted them to see me attending weekly even if I didn’t feel like it, and I knew they and their peers had practiced a song for all the moms.) I enjoyed their lovely hugs (and songs) and cards and “interesting” breakfasts in bed that one day of the year.
But the moment memories of Mom meandered into the day, renewed mourning overtook me.
Over the years I’ve learned to live with my mother’s loss, but there were always certain days per year — like Mother’s Day — wherein the pain of being a daughter without a mother hit me again. Hard.
Those hits became all-out assaults after my husband died. The pain of being a wife without a husband knocked the breath out of me.
This is my fifth widowed Mother’s Day. It’s easier … and yet it’s not. (My plastic smile will be a little more convincing as I smile at the children singing at church this year, but I know better than to bother wearing eye makeup.)
If you know someone grieving this Mother’s Day, let them know you’re mindful of their loss. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Let them know you know this year is different than it was.
Don’t say you know how they feel, because you don’t — especially if you’ve never suffered a similar loss. Only bereaved mothers, for instance, can nearly understand the raw feelings of other mothers who have buried a child. Acknowledge the unique, personal, presence of their grief.
Some people need interaction with others to distract them from tender days like this. Reach out and invite them!
But if they ignore or decline your invitation or phone calls, don’t take it personally. They might be like I am, needing to hunker down this year, but also appreciating messages of support. (I’m keeping the “Please do NOT disturb” sign on my door all day.)
Whether they take you up on your offers or don’t bother responding, let them know you’re aware and you care.