I remember a bereaved mother one year, telling me about leaving a shopping centre in tears in the lead up to Mother’s Day. She had walked past a shop and in the window was a giant poster with the words, “All I want for Mother’s Day is a hug from my daughter.” Oh, how I understood.
Such innocent words, but for a mother whose child has died, it is a painful reminder that she is facing Mother’s Day without her child or possibly even children. That story stayed with me and I think of it every Mother’s Day because yes, all I desperately want is to see my beautiful daughter’s face and feel her arms around me once again. I haven’t had that for twenty years.
The first mother’s day after Bree passed away was terrible and I simply wanted the day to be over. Bree had passed away 7 weeks before and I was still feeling numb and broken. I couldn’t face leaving the house or having the tv on in case I heard any mention of Mother’s Day. A week later, I lost my second child at 20 weeks pregnant, so the next year was worse. I was now grieving two children and of course facing his anniversary straight after Mother’s Day as well. I was pregnant with a third child by this stage and everyone just kept referring to this new child, as if this made up for my beautiful daughter not being with me on Mother’s Day.
The following years became full of mixed emotions as I was able to experience all the things I hadn’t before – the early attempts of breakfast in bed, the presents of face washers in the shape of a swan from the school Mother’s Day stall and then as he got older, the cards with loving words in them that brought tears to my eyes. Every Mother’s Day though, has the shadow of my absent children.
The best Mother’s Day was a few years ago. My son and I went away for the weekend and the rule was – no technology. We played games, walked in the crisp May air and toasted marshmallows in the fire. On the Sunday morning, he made me breakfast in bed and as we ate together, I shared funny stories about Bree. He laughed at them all and wanted to hear more. It was one of those precious moments that you truly treasure and for the first time, I felt as though both of my children were with me on Mother’s Day – a son who had never met his sister and a daughter who is forever absent from our lives. I’d like to think my unborn child was there with us too.
Nowadays, I embrace Bereaved Mother’s Day. This day was created internationally by Carly Marie Dudley in 2010 after the loss of her stillborn son Christian to recognise the many women who feel grief on Mother’s Day. Whether you have suffered the loss of a child, experienced a stillbirth or miscarriage, or even for women who desperately wanted a child and were unable to conceive, Bereaved Mother’s Day, the first Sunday in May, aims to embrace your sorrow and remind you that you are not alone.
I spend the day with other mothers who like me, mourn for the children we have lost. Being together makes this time of year easier as we share stories of our beloved children with tears and smiles. It is a time where I can freely talk about Bree and wonder how we would be spending Mother’s Day if she were here. I’d opt for a spa day or the theatre. Who knows what she would have been into?
Whatever you are doing this Mother’s Day, whether you are sharing it with other children, facing the day without your only child or mourning the child that never was, I hope you all find some peace with your thoughts and I send you all, much love.