Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Bereaved Mother’s Dirty Little Secret

Mother’s Day 2015 marks 24 years since the death of my sweet daughter Meghan. She would have been 30 this year. Although I think about her every day, certain days are more likely than others to bring up emotion. Mother’s Day is most definitely one of them, alongside her birthday, the anniversary of her passing and Easter, as it was the last holiday we had with her. Though time has passed and the deep sorrow of the early days of grieving has lifted, there are still times when the pain of the loss is more present. Mother’s Day is a yearly reminder that this child is no longer physically present. Though joy may have returned, on this day that familiar ache returns for a visit.

Bereaved mothers have a dirty little secret and this is it: we’re often just a little pissed.  Watching our child’s peers grow up, perhaps get married and have children brings a strange mixed bag of emotions. There is joy for sure in this, but somewhere deeply buried is a chunk of resentment stuffed down deep where no one can see. Over time and with compassion and awareness this chunk can be whittled away, but most of us are embarrassed to admit that it exists and so we continue to stuff it down until it is buried so deeply that we barely notice it anymore.

Now don’t get me wrong, bereaved mothers can still be happy for these children who have survived and lived on after our own child did not. And there is joy in knowing they have developed into happy, healthy productive adults. In a way it offers us a glimpse into what would have been, had our child survived, and there is solace in that. We’re just a little envious, resentful and yes, sad that we will miss the milestones and markers that you will no doubt enjoy with your living children. It’s OK though. We have had to learn to live with this contradiction; the co-existence of joy and pain that reminds us daily that we are achingly fragile and unmistakably human.
What balances and helps to dissipate these negative energies that arise; energies like resentment, envy, grief? Only love can do that. And sometimes a fierce and persistent love is the ONLY thing that will do the trick. So if you happen to encounter a bereaved mom this Mother’s Day week, think on this and maybe love them just a little bit harder.

Happy Healthy Mother’s Day Moms! XO

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