Cynthia L. Eppley 05/09/2021
It is a holiday that we celebrate and dread, all at the same time.
There is a certain amount of loss associated with being a mother.
Often, we don’t talk about it.
But it lingers, right beneath the surface; at times it bubbles over into our presence….like on Mother’s Day.
Bereaved Mother’s Day
I never knew this existed until this year.
“Bereaved Mother’s Day was created in 2010 to celebrate mothers who have a child (or multiple children) in Heaven. The first Sunday in May is dedicated to moms who hold a child in our heart instead of in our arms.”
There are so many losses: perhaps one that cuts deepest is the loss of a newborn. I have a dear friend who gave birth to a long awaited baby at the end of December. Little Hezekiah was early, and lived 16 days.
His mother and father wrote this:
“Our precious little soul gave us the long-awaited titles of mom and dad. In his brief time with us Hezekiah lived up to his name “YAHWEH strengthens.’
We never know what struggles people face, do we?
Emily and Joel were out hiking and this happened:
“Within minutes of heading up our favorite walking trail we ran into a family with the mom wearing a baby that was probably about the age Hezekiah would be now. Baby was fussing and after saying hello the mom said ‘want a baby?!’ Joel and I both immediately answered with an enthusiastic ‘YES!’
Parents-please be mindful about jokes about the very real burdens in parenting and being exasperated with your children.
My faithful prayer warriors-thank you your fervent prayers for our hearts and minds. This interaction should have sent me down a very dark path, and honestly, in the past, while grieving the dream of parenthood, has sent me down a very dark path more times I care to admit.”
Many circumstances lead to separation and loss within the mother/child relationship. There are those who long to conceive and find that impossible.
There are those who long to hold their child in their arms, but have suffered still birth, or miscarriage.
There are those who made the devastating choice to abort their child. So many factors went into this decision but one thing is certain: it was heart wrenching.
There are those who have no children of their own, but are spiritual mothers to so many.
In my own family, my sister Carol Lynn died of pneumonia and Cerebral Palsy at the age of 5. My parents were deeply impacted by her loss. Although gone, her story lives on.
There are those who have lost a teen or young adult to a car crash or other mishap.
The reality of drug and alcohol use within our population causes a schism in families. Some of our teens and older children are on a path of destruction. And parents ache for them, impossible to stop the downward spiral.
Others may face mental illness. How do parents navigate the Mental Health system with grown children who refuse help? These grown children would rather be on their own, while parents stand by with broken hearts.
A final loss is that of estrangement. Our culture is awash in political arguments. From political parties, to vaccine use— strong opinions divide and separate us.
There are adult children who refuse to acknowledge their parents, sometimes for years.
And I’m sure there are other fractured Mother/Child relationships.
So much of our lives are wrapped up in relationships.
And for a mother, especially on Mother’s Day, a loss of a mother/child relationship is particularly sad.
This is why Mother’s Day can be bittersweet for so many.
If you doubt this, just take a look at Social Media.
What to Do?
There is very little we can do to change the loss for a mother, and for parents. In fact, the last thing we want to do is “fix it.”
But we can acknowledge the loss.
Recognize that this may be a hard day for them.
Recognize the life that was cherished, if even for a short time. Don’t ignore the pain of the day.
Perhaps a card, or a simple hug may be in order.
Caring for those who suffer loss is always appropriate.
This is an intensely personal issue, and asking probing questions may not be welcomed. Certainly, platitudes and superficial assurance are to be avoided.
And like Emily and Joel on the trail, we can be careful what we say to others.
We can be intentional in our support.
“Be kind one to another, tenderhearted.” Ephesians 4:32
Mothers and Hope
Emily has chosen to celebrate Mother’s Day as a new mother.
She longs for Hezekiah.
They longed for a little one, and from conception, reveled in the miracle of life. As an expectant mother, she awaited the long anticipated due date.
Her posts on Social Media have been honest and vulnerable, but also full of hope.
They look with hope for that glorious day when they are reunited before Jesus.
She has opened the door for others to care for her.
How can we honor our loved ones? What means is there to celebrate life?
For Emily and Joel, they choose to plant trees in Hezekiah’s honor:
“Got our Hezekiah tree(s)! The Helena maple is the official Hezekiah tree, but we really wanted aspens too because they spread/multiply!”
Montana is awash in rugged beauty.
Hezekiah’s tree will add to the splendor of the landscape and be a living testimony that his time here, though short, was so very worthwhile.
His life was precious.
And he will be in our hearts forever.