My husband and I were only four months into our marriage when we suffered our first miscarriage. We had so many hopes and so much excitement. After one week of joy, the bleeding began. As I navigated this brand new season of grief in my life–one that involved death in my own body–I clung to the words a priest-friend sent me when he heard the news of our loss. He wrote, “You are a mother… the tiny life is with God now and will forever call you ‘mother.’”
These words held me, as I longed to hold my child.
From Now On, Always a Mother
Although my baby was no longer alive, the gift of motherhood which had been given to me was not taken away. Instead, my new, motherly heart remained. My body and mind also testified to this truth. So much so that, on the one year anniversary, I began to grieve subconsciously! I had not yet realized that the day of this first loss had been carved in my memory. My body knew it was time to grieve even without me having to reach for my calendar.
Mothers do not forget. We remember the losses, the milestones, the little things. This is why, often, Mother’s Day can be filled both with joys and with sorrows. Because we both mother and we grieve.
My First Mother’s Day
In the months after this first miscarriage, Mother’s Day crept around. I remember fearing this day and wishing we could just skip it all together. A dear friend, who also knew the pain of pregnancy loss, sent my husband a monetary gift. She asked that he buy me flowers on her behalf for Mother’s Day. I had no idea about this beautiful, thoughtful gesture until the day I was dreading finally came.
Then, in waltzed my husband with two gigantic bouquets of flowers, one bunch from him and one from my friend. We danced and we rejoiced as he recognized me as a mother; the mother of our unborn baby now with Jesus.
I was expecting a day full of pain and grief. But instead, my heart was turned upwards to think of Heaven and so I was in turn filled with joy and gratitude. The reality of our circumstance and the suffering of miscarriage could not change what had already come into existence. The soul of our baby continues to exist even after death. Truly, therefore, I was still a mother. I will always be the mother of these two souls whom I pray to one day meet in Heaven when I also meet Him face to face, and also His Mother.
For many of us, Mother’s Day is not a “cut and dry” happy day of bliss or solely one of sorrow. It might even look differently each year–one happier than the next or some filled with more sorrow than anticipated.
The Heart of Mary
Perhaps it would do us good, sisters, to see that our Mother’s Day–and our identity as mothers– is more like Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart: covered both with flowers and a sword. There is beauty, there is gratitude, there is love overflowing from our motherly hearts. But there is also profound grief. This cannot be done away with; rather, we must learn to embrace it. The grief is, in fact, a sign that we have loved.
There is beauty and love overflowing from our motherly hearts. But there is also profound grief. This cannot be done away with; rather, we must learn to embrace it. The grief is, in fact, a sign that we have loved. #BISblog //Click to tweet
Whether a mother has lost her child through miscarriage, still-birth, a horrible illness in the early years of life, an accident in adolescence, through a violent crime or death in the stillness of the night, a sword has pierced her heart and she can never be the same. This does not mean that she will never know profound joy again. It means that her joys will taste sweeter because the grief and suffering have made way for a more attuned heart, a more refined sight. And she will see that life is not made unbearable by the loved ones we have lost and now grieve for. But instead, our lives are made all the more full and beautiful because we have made space for others and have grown to love in a way that is stronger than death (see Song of Solomon 8:6). We love our children and death cannot stop our love.
Our lives are turned upside down, yes, but from the other side, we gain new vision and a new heart–one more like Hers. She was the perfect mother who did not love her Son until the Cross but loved Him all the way through death and into the Resurrection. She never stopped loving.
How Can I Celebrate Mother’s Day?
As we gather with our families or simply celebrate at home with our spouse, take a moment this Mother’s Day to give thanks. Remember that even if the day may bring heartache or difficult memories, it is because of one reason: you were entrusted with a life; one that, from the moment of its creation, will no longer cease to exist even after death. Recognizing the magnitude of this gift allows us to bow in awe of the Lord’s goodness, even in our grief.
I invite you, sister, if your Mother’s Day is also marred in its beauty, to turn to Our Lady, especially on this day. Allow her Immaculate Heart to console you. Take time to pray a Rosary or make a shorter prayer of devotion to her Sorrows.
Lastly, if there is a woman in your life whom you know also struggles on Mother’s Day because of her own story of grief, perhaps you may go out of your way to pay her a holy visit, bring her some flowers, send her a sweet gift, or simply write her a message. Remind her that she is still a mother, despite her loss. Her grief is the evidence that she has loved and still does.
How will you celebrate this Mother’s Day together with our Mother Mary?