Hope When Mother’s Day Hurts – Serenity in Suffering

Mother’s Day looms ahead in a few short days. As the third highest selling holiday for flowers and plants, and the busiest day of the year for restaurants, many mothers look forward to these special honors from their families. Sadly, not all mothers find this day especially joy-filled. As soon as May 1st arrives, I begin dreading the arrival of the second Sunday in May. Finding hope when Mother’s Day hurts seems elusive, especially when the ideal celebrated all around you, portrays a story different from your own.

The beautiful cards with tender sentiments, television commercials, internet advertisements all portray happy moms surrounded by a doting husband and grateful children. These charming illustrations of motherhood touch our hearts, but for some moms, the same illustrations trigger despair or depression anchored in painful memories. A number of reasons contribute to a woman finding Mother’s Day Painful. Death of a child or mother, infertility, divorce, singleness, a wayward child, illness or an unplanned pregnancy resulting in an adoption placement of her child many years ago.

when child loss hurts

Whether a woman suffers the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, an unexpected death at any age or an adoption placement, her grief is for a lifetime. At the time a woman experiences the loss of her child, she also loses her hopes and dreams for that child. She loses the first steps, first words, birthdays, holidays, school programs, every moment of a lifetime left unlived. What’s Your Grief blog shares a poignant open letter gathered from several grieving moms, sharing their feelings.

While many events trigger child loss grief, Mother’s Day brings an accentuated emptiness to the arms of a mother missing her child. The bittersweet emotion of gratitude for the privilege of having their child, no matter how brief the moments brings hope when Mother’s Day hurts. While at the same time, they sit unseen as few people know how to validate the mother of a child in heaven. The dreaded questions, “Do you have children?” or “How many children do you have?” pierce their hearts like a hot knife.

Being an almost mother isn’t a thing. You have children, whether they made it here or not doesn’t take away from the fact they existed. They were yours, and they were loved fully if only for those small moments.

Brittainy C Cherry

hope when child loss hurts

Regardless of the avenue of loss, losing a child is arguably one of the hardest things to endure. But finding hope when Mother’s Day hurts, as in all suffering, is in God and His presence with us always (Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 43:2 ). God cares for us in our loss, intimately acquainted with the loss of a child for He lost His Son too. (Psalm 56:8, Psalm 147:3, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5) God walks with us and strengthens us in the long grief journey. (Psalm 73:26, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 11:28-29). And the ultimate hope of seeing our child again in heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

river flowing over rocks, green trees on either side
  • If YOU are the mother hurting from the loss of a child:
    • Acknowledge your grief. A mother’s grief is as timeless as her love. Though painful, grief speaks love, let that love flow through your tears.
    • Never apologize for your tears. Tears speak deep love and honor your child’s absence.
    • Have specific plans. Plan ahead, choose how you desire spending the day, avoid leaving it to chance.
    • Avoid unnecessary triggers; places, social media, gift shops.
    • Talk about your child, speak their name, do something to honor them.
    • Honor another mother grieving a loss.
  • If you know a mother grieving the loss of a child:
    • Validate their grief. Acknowledge their story without expecting them to “be over it by now”. A mother’s grief lasts a lifetime.
    • Speak their child’s name; share positive memories of the child if the child was old enough to do so. Do something to honor the memory of the child, a donation, placing flowers on the grave or the gift of a memory item with the child’s name on it.
    • Forget the flowers. Flowers can trigger memories of those placed on the casket or gravesite or sent during the time of bereavement.
    • Give your time to listen, share or serve in another way. Bring dinner or invite her to dinner.
    • Laugh. Share fond memories, silly stories or a comical event from your life. Mom needs the assurance that joy is still a part of her Mother’s Day.

when estranged relationships hurt

Mothers of prodigal children or mothers living with estranged relationships with their children suffer their own grief reality peppered with hints of failure and shame. Haunted by what ifs, or endless questions of “what went wrong?” or “what could I have done differently?” They incessantly hit the replay button of past events for answers. I live with the reality of no contact with two of my children. One of those relationships involves the addition of no contact with a granddaughter.

Glimpsing others enjoying family celebrations on Mother’s Day, bares the deep wound of shame for my broken family relationships. Who knew the emptiness of facing the question, “Will you spend Mother’s Day with your children?” could cause even more pain than the empty mailbox or flower vase.

Throughout my life, there were a few hard days. Days where even when I tried to be happy, my heart still cracked, and Mother’s Day was one of those. For others, it stood as a celebration. For me, it spoke of loss and failure.

Brittainy C Cherry

hope when estranged relationships hurt

Finding hope when Mother’s Day hurts for moms with estranged relationships or prodigal children often seems evasive. Loving children who choose a distanced relationship or none at all, weakens hope as it slowly wounds our hearts. But regardless how far away our children choose to go, God’s truth never changes. God’s love reaches, His arm is mighty to save. (Isaiah 44:3, Luke 19:10, Lamentations 3:22-23)

  • If YOU are the mother hurting from a wayward child:
    • Don’t make it about you. Avoid dwelling or ruminating on past mistakes or what ifs. Avoid playing the victim, understand God’s purpose is bigger than any of that.
    • Set aside a specific time to pray for your child on Mother’s Day; thank God for their life, your privilege as their mother and the hope you have in God for this child.
    • Avoid allowing your wayward child to steal your joy. If our joy depends on having everything right with our child, we make them an idol. Trusting God with their situation demonstrates love for God above all and also for your child.
    • Remember God can redeem your wayward child; the picture is always bigger than you can see.
  • If you know a hurting mother of a wayward child:
    • Rather than asking about the child, simply assure mom you are praying for the child. Asking about the child triggers anxiety if mom has no knowledge of their whereabouts or embarrassment if they remain distant or uninterested.
    • Avoid judging either mom or the child. Distant or prodigal children are still loved; no parent wants others relegating their children to hopelessness. You don’t know the whole story.
    • Do talk about positive things regarding the child. Mom needs reminders of sweeter, happier times to spark hope and keep the right perspective.
    • Help mom start new traditions, offer a listening ear or send a card.
large lake, mountains in background, viewed through shrub with pink flowers at sunset. Hope when mother's day hurts

when life hurts

Sometimes Mother’s Day arrives in the midst of life’s most difficult trials; marital stress, separation, or recent divorce, financial hardship or serious illness among a few. A mom suddenly finding herself a single parent due to divorce or death, may find it difficult celebrating Mother’s Day without a spouse’s validation. Those struggling with financial hardship or illness may find the societal “ideal” out of reach resulting in disappointment, grief or embarrassment.

Really, every woman is an example to me, because as women we go through so much pain. We have to live this perfect life when we are messed up inside. We all go through trials and tribulations.

Mary J Blige

hope when life hurts

When life hurts on Mother’s day or any day, we find hope in the knowledge nothing can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:38-39)For He dwells in our midst, mighty to save, content in His love for us. ( Zephaniah 3:17) Our story neither shocks nor revolts Him; He desires to draw near in comfort, offering us rest.

  • Embrace your story. Even if it looks different than you hoped, God is the author and knows the beginning, middle and end of your story, the last chapter remains unwritten.
  • Abandon Expectations. The societal ideal is a wolf in marketing clothes, its only intention fueled by commerce. Every family sits with brokenness in some form, behind every smile is a battle you know nothing about.
  • Celebrate on your terms. A simple, heart felt show of appreciation communicates love the same if not more than costly, elaborate festivities.

Mother’s Day is an awkward time for the single mom, especially of small children. An element of grief surfaces when no husband or “Dad” is present helping the children understand the importance of the day and ensuring a “special” time of appreciation. Imagine arranging every detail of your birthday celebration down to buying gifts, due to the absence of anyone desiring to do these things for you.

brown leather journal, two pink lilacs on brown wooden table

Hope when a single mom hurts

The most important hope for single moms is the reminder that God is their husband, (Isaiah 54:5), their provider, (Philippians 4:19), their protector, (Psalm 18:2) their Father, (Psalm 68:5) their helper, (Hebrews 13:6)their peace, (Ephesians 2:14) and their future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

  • If YOU are the single mom:
    • Remember you deserve a special day, too.
    • Tell your kids how you prefer to spend the day. If you have young children, help them understand how special the day is for all mothers.
    • Help your children make gifts. Younger children can draw pictures of your favorite things, or colors, older children can help make a simple meal.
    • Honor yourself; journal about your experiences of motherhood, hopes, dreams and desires. Find time for some special time alone.
  • If you know a single mom:
    • Send a card. Nothing says “I see you” more than a handwritten card.
    • Make time to hear her story, listen with compassion.
    • Provide dinner for her on Mother’s Day; drop off a casserole ahead of time, or invite her and her children over to your home.
    • If her children are young, send her cards from them, imagine her surprise! If older consider helping them make gifts for her, perhaps with your children.
    • Offer to babysit so she can have a day/night off.
white and silver tea service for two on silver tray, atop brown wooden table, white roses on table, hope when mother's day hurts

hope when mother’s day hurts

Anticipating Mother’s Day as the mother of three children, two of which choose to distance themselves from me, and the grandmother of four; one precious lamb in heaven, one placed for adoption, one I am not permitted to see, and one delightful little one who lights up my life, provokes many emotions. All driving me to the true Lover of my soul for rest.

The most precious lesson I learned about Mother’s Day came to me from Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” When we compassionately see and value each woman in her motherhood journey, we interlace joy and sorrow into a garment of hope. Knowing our sanctification is forged through both gifts of joy and trials of sorrow, we encourage one another. Who will you bless this Mother’s Day by rejoicing with them or weeping with them?

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All content is copyrighted and the intellectual property of Donna M. Bucher, Serenity in Suffering 2020.

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