This past January I grieved alongside my sister the loss of my niece, our deeply loved little girl who was put into a body not meant for this world. Losing a child isn’t something that we talk about often because, really, what is there to say?
When you lose a baby before they ever really come into your home, you don’t have a memory to go back to. You can’t talk about their life well lived. You can’t share stories about who they were.
It’s a different kind of loss. And so often it becomes a silent loss. One that we feel only on the inside, but never know how to share openly.
There are many stories that make Mother’s Day a mixed bag. As a mother of two, going on three children, I admit I want to be celebrated. I want to have a day to sleep in and get cards and to remember that all the snack making, laundry folding, and sibling meditating is really worth it and is really making a difference.
I want Mother’s Day.
But I also want Mother’s Day for a lot of other mothers.
I want Mother’s Day for all the mothers who never held their living babies.
I want Mother’s Day for all the mothers who are still hoping for a child.
I want Mother’s Day for all the mothers who said goodbye to a child much too soon.
And I want Mother’s Day for those who no longer have a mother to send a card to.
This isn’t a new thing. It’s as old as . . . Mother’s Day. But I feel it in a new way this year personally because I miss the little girl who should have been “signing” a card for my sister this weekend.
When I think about this Mother’s Day in light of that loss, I want to find a way to redeem the day for every mother like my sister. When I think about how to make Sunday special, here’s what I want to do.
1. Not fix anything.
I can’t anyway. My sister doesn’t need to be fixed, and it’s well beyond my abilities to go snatch my niece out of heaven and bring her back to this world. So there’s nothing for me to fix.
2. Acknowledge it.
If you remember someone else’s loss, chances are they remember too. They haven’t forgotten the child or parent they miss this Mother’s Day. So it’s actually more helpful to remember with them. Grief is never bearable, but it’s more bearable when we are not grieving alone.
3. Give a gift.
When someone is grieving a loss there may not be a card that says the right thing or a box of chocolates that feels appropriate. But, there’s something about tangible things to hold onto. So it’s okay to send a well-selected picture, a hand-written card, a teddy bear, a necklace, a song. When you give a gift that means something—it means something.
4. Say a prayer.
I’m not sure God can give me a reason to help me make sense of all the grief that happens in this life. I’m not sure when or how He will heal the hurt that my sister feels with the loss of a child, but I do see how He has given her happy moments in spite of an ever-present sadness. I see how He has given her friends even when she feels alone. And I will say a prayer that somehow little by little the anger will melt into something new, so that someday when she meets her daughter in heaven, my sister will have lived a better life on this earth because of the daughter she never knew.
I pray that we all will. I pray that every mother—
the mothers who hold their children,
the mothers who hope for children,
the mothers who have said goodbye to a child too soon—
will all feel seen, and remembered, and loved this Mother’s Day. And that we can all live a better life in the present because of the children we love so much.