The following was published in the Dallas Morning News on 5-12-17.
Mother’s Day for many is a celebration full of great joy. For others, it is one of the hardest days of the year.
Advertisers deem that the day be full of beautiful pictures and posts on social media, balloons, flowers, cards, sunshine and fancy brunches. But for many the day is a reminder of the empty chair, the phone call that will not come, the handmade cards scrawled with “Mommy” that will not be created. It’s another day filled with the what-ifs, the should-have-beens, and the hopes and dreams that did not turn out as planned.
For some, the day is hard because their mothers are no longer living. Many have always missed the presence of supporting and loving mothers in their lives. For others, Mother’s Day is a day of longing for children they have can’t have. For those struggling with infertility, it is another reminder that what some believe to be so easy is actually quite complicated and painful.
For those who have given up their children for adoption, it is a day of missing the relationship they were never able to have with the children they gave birth to. For those who have tried to adopt, but the process fell apart, the day serves as another reminder of what almost was. And, for mothers whose children have died, the day is a raw, painful and even surreal time of meditating on the life and loss the world cannot see. When your journey to being a mother has taken a turn that no one could ever imagine, Mother’s Day can be brutal.
I spent my first Mother’s Day in a cemetery, standing over the grave of my first child who was stillborn in the third trimester. I wanted to celebrate the fact that I was his mom and he was my boy, but how do you do that when no one can see your child and your world has been shattered into a million pieces? I was filled with so much love for him, but my arms ached to hold him just one more time, to see his sweet face and touch that soft baby skin
I was lucky others surrounded me that day. Their love and support sustained me and helped me find my way. But even with a community surrounding me, it was, and continues to be, one of the hardest days I have ever faced.
Sunday will be my fifth Mother’s Day without my Max. For many, it will be their first and for others their 50th or even more. Please remember on a day that is greeted with joy and celebrated by many that some of your friends and family are breaking inside. They may be hiding out. They may be present with you and even smiling, while nursing broken hearts.
Please take time to call them, drop by and give a hug. Send them cards or take them to brunch if they want to go. For a grieving mom, speak her child’s name. For a grieving son or daughter, remember the mother who has gone. This is the greatest gift you can give. Tears may fall, but you haven’t reminded them of the pain. Trust me, they haven’t forgotten that their children died, that their mothers are buried.
The tears are tears of joy knowing that people remember the ones they love so much.
If Sunday is a hard day for you, know you are not alone. I sense your pain, feel your sadness, know the tears that you wipe away. I see your smile while also being aware that the deepest part of you aches for what should be. The bond between parent and child is a bond that cannot even be broken by separation or death.
We grieve because of the love we share. And love? Love always carries on.
DeAndrea Dare is executive director of A Memory Grows in Fort Worth. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Website: amemorygrows.org
I’m a 59-year-old guy, and you had me in tears with your article in the Dallas Morning News. My older brother should be 64 now, but he was stillborn. Until her death a couple of years ago, Mom could still get misty thinking about him. Dad told me once that there is no more dismal and lonely feeling than coming home from the hospital empty-handed to a baby room ready for occupancy. A few years ago, I read “Heaven Is For Real”, and I was struck by the boy in the story meeting the little sister in Heaven that he never knew he had, since she had been miscarried. I gave it to Mom the Mother’s Day before she died, and she was very happy to think of the reunion that awaited her. Now the body that betrayed her is made new, and she’s getting to know her first son. May it be that way for you and Max.