International Bereaved Mother’s Day
Written by: Becky Bierwas
Motherhood is complicated.
The death of our child is even more complex.
We have entered into the month where we are bombarded with ads, cards, and commercials promoting Mother’s Day. A holiday where our society mostly celebrates and honors those who have living children. While this is so special and important to ALL mothers, it is also so bittersweet for those of us whose story and path are marked by the death of a child(ren); let alone those of us who still currently have no living children and/or struggle with infertility.
The life of a bereaved mother is one lived with a constant duality of emotions co-existing. The joy and the honor of being called “mama”, are carried with the sadness and deep grieving of our child(ren) who are no longer with us earthside. A delicate dance we are constantly seeking to find balance within. One that we sadly will never achieve the perfect balance or steps within in our lifetime, no matter how much readjusting we do, because that would require our children to be here with us. We desire more than anything for ALL our children to be honored and recognized within our life and until we are reunited, we shall do our best to honor ALL our children.
Please know, wherever you are within your own dance: your grief, your tears, your heart, your joy, your children, you, are welcome here.
As I thought about what I could share, that you perhaps didn’t already know or have experienced for yourself this International Bereaved Mother’s Day, I settled on my heart and my hope. To those of you who are reading this and are fresh in this journey, my heart aches for you, my hand reaches for yours and my arms desire to hold you tight while you have the chance to fall apart. Please allow yourself to fall apart. To those of you who have started to find some semblance of direction and a new normal as a bereaved mama, I pray for the peace of God to surround you. May He envelop you in the moments of deep sadness that still come with bereaved mamahood, no matter how many years it has been since your baby went to be in the arms of Jesus. This sadness that is so heavy, that wears us like a coat, that is so heavy it feels like we cannot move and takes our breath away when we sit in it.
The sadness we can FEEL in every fiber of our being and deep into our bones. It comes in waves and still knocks us to the ground when we least expect it. Just breathe mama, sit in it, and allow yourself to feel it. One day closer. To those of you who are a bit further out, my hope is that you are at a place where you have been able to honor your wilt, this death, and the darkness you never asked for and have struggled to assimilate to and embrace. BUT, and more importantly, honor your bloom. Reach for the sunshine, unfolding slowly, being born into a new life and a beauty that bereaved mothers come to intimately understand. A beauty from deep within, watered by our many tears, fought for fiercely every moment of every day, and fed by our love for our children. To recognize that even amongst some of the deepest and darkest moments of pain in our lives, that beauty can and does exist. That God has not and will not forsake us, even if we still cannot recognize this new woman who stares back at us in the mirror or the new life that has been carved and so deeply etched in us, through us, out of such deep loss, pain, and trauma.
To all of you. YOU are all STILL mothers. Mothers to angel babies. Mothers to living babies. Mothers are all the same.
The duality that comes with International Bereaved Mother’s Day is not lost on me. I am so grateful and thankful to Carly Marie Dudly for starting this holiday. This holiday is in so many ways a celebration AND a memorial for us as mothers, but also for ALL our babies.
While I am sure we would rather be delivered from the pain and suffering that comes hand in hand with the passing of a child, I do believe that in that sorrow and desperation, dare I say, comes with it a level of intimacy and dependency on our Savior we might not have known otherwise.
Anyone that knows me well, knows I do not say that lightly. I am not one to shy away from the belief that I do not think Rhys’ death, my own son, was in any way needed or necessary, a lesson to be taught, as sometimes our society tends to imply. I do not wish to imply that we needed to lose our children to find this intimacy with the Lord, but I do see it as being a byproduct of deep trauma and grief. NEEDING our Lord in a way that we have never needed him before as we are brought to our knees in pain, anger, sadness, doubt, and deep, deep grief; only a kind that comes after the loss of a child.
The byproduct produced an even deeper and more intimate relationship. In all transparency, I acknowledge this and trust it for myself and still often have times feeling it and allowing myself to accept it. I still question, I am still angry, and I’m still so deeply lost without my child. I bring ALL of that to God; I do not hold anything back.
For those of you who may not have this relationship with God, I hope you have found a deeper level of connection and intimacy in your own way and know that there is a God out there who loves you and your child and is grieving alongside you. God stores every tear. He, like us, intimately knows what it is like to be separated from His child.
My prayer for you all, regardless, is that we can be brave enough to continue to have hope. To stand facing fear and still choose hope; choose love. When we ask why God allowed this, because if you haven’t already, you will, I hope we can still rejoice in God’s goodness. This comes easier for some; for me personally, this is still a very intentional moment-by-moment struggle. It still remains my hope, nonetheless.
Happy (Bereaved) Mother’s Day, Mama. You are seen and so, so very loved. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate this month. My heart hopes this letter touches you in a special way and reassures you deeply, that no matter how many babies you have earthside, you are and always will be a mother to your angel(s) as well; if you're like me and only have angel babies, please know you are STILL a mother. Holding space for you all today and every day. So much love.