Saturday, May 10, 2014

Grief keeping on Mother's Day: A mother's love never dies (nor the love of a child for their mother)

Mother's Day.

It comes every year.  Every year, I want to pull the covers over my head.  I feel drained of energy. irritable and hyper-sensitive in the days before as well as on Mother's Day. It's a day I both dread and look forward to.

This day for me has always been a trigger.  My first Mother's day without Meg, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I hadn't expected Mother's day to be so difficult.  It was horrible.  I was blindsided by how slapped in the face and stabbed in the heart I would be on a day that was about moms.  There are so many things no one tells you about grief...

I usually wake early, before my boys, and go to the cemetery.  The cemetery.  No woman should have to spend Mother's day at a cemetery.

I go not to mourn my mom (thank the Heavens, but I do see others there who are visiting the grave of their own mothers), but instead, to visit my daughter's grave. Her 'special place'.  I go not because she's 'there', but because it's quiet and a place to honor her memory and be with my thoughts and feelings uninterrupted.  Here, I sit. I cry. Not so much because she's gone (although of course that hurts every day), but this day, it's more because I feel my failure as a mother more acutely than any other.  I have three children.  Only two remain on the earth with me.

It's a day about mothering. About celebrating moms. On this day, it's tremendously and painfully obvious, one of my children is not with me.  Not physically.  Not in this earthly plane.  And it hurts. Like hell.

The core of the job of a parent is to protect their children.  To keep them safe, alive, and give them a happy, healthy, full, life.  I failed.  FAILED.

Meggie died.  At the tender age of 3.  An accident, yes.  But one that could have been easily prevented.  By me.  Yes, her father could have secured her dresser, but ultimately, I could have too. Granted we did not know the true dangers, but that does not really matter now, does it?

Every year, I tearfully apologize to her, often allowing myself to sob uncontrollably.  It allows me to be able to 'hold it together' the rest of the day for my boys.  I'm so sorry sweet Meggie moo.  I'm so sorry I failed you as a mommy. You did not deserve your fate.  I hate how my failure disrupted our family forever. I shall carry it my heart forever, to my own grave.

Sometimes, she answers.  Like she did one Mother's Day a few years ago.  With love.

Heart cloud at the cemetery, Mother's Day, 2009.  One of many I've seen over the years.
If you follow this blog, you know I have integrated Meg's life and death very much into the fabric of my life and that of my family.  You know I don't let the guilt and sense of failure as a parent I feel paralyze me.  I acknowledge it for what it is, and I think it's a good thing.  I continue to parent her through the work of Meghan's Hope.  I am a fully functioning head of my family and member of society.  I connect with her in other ways.  I *get* it.  Really, I do.

Yet one cannot help how they feel, and this is one of the few days each year I allow myself to acutely feel that depth of guilt and failure as a mom.

Don't tell me not to feel that way, it will only make me feel worse. It would mean you are not listening to me.  Please.  Listen.  That's all I ask.  Hear me. Don't try to 'make it better'.  You can't. Grief is a lifelong ride with ups and downs.  Today is a down.

Want to make my day?  Remember Meggie.  Say her name.  Look at her picture.  Acknowledge how hard this day is for me and why.  Share a memory of her of of her and I. Send some healing energy my way.

Hallmark and elementary schools everywhere encourage everyone to celebrate their mothers. Rightfully so.  Moms rock.  They deserve to be celebrated for their 24/7, unpaid, often unappreciated and misunderstood self-sacrificing job of being a mom.

Mothering lasts a lifetime, not just until their kids 'leave the nest'.  A mom's love never ends.  It is the most difficult and most rewarding job ever.

What mom doesn't love to be appreciated on Mother's day?  A thoughtful card, the best are hand made. Flowers, especially picked by hand.  Dandelions make great Mother's Day bouquets!  A simple "Happy Mother's Day, mom.  I love you.  Thanks for all you do for us." goes way farther than fancy store bought things.  Perhaps dinner out or breakfast in bed, to give mom a 'break' would be lovely.  It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. Most moms just want to be acknowledged and appreciated for the hard work of being mom that so many simply take for granted. Hell, I'd take kids that just for once do what they are supposed to without being nagged.

I so get now why my mom always asked for peace and quiet for Mother's Day...

For many women it's a very painful and difficult day. I'm certainly not the only one.  It's a trigger day for their loss(es).  It's not fair. No mother should ever have to dread mother's day.  Yet so many do.
Not for what they have, but instead, for what is missing in their lives.

I'm not alone.  I promise you, you know at least one other person silently struggling this day because of their own loss of a mother or a child, whether they tell you so or not.  And for the record, moms who have had stillbirths, pregnancy loss, or infertility struggles and have yet to conceive but desperately want to be a mom feel this pain, too.

You will see a lot of grief keeping on Mother's day. One of the great things about social media is that people have a place to put and share their grief.  We don't have to suffer alone.  It's actually a wonderful thing, because it allows us to express our feelings, be heard and to say, "Look!  Here is a little bit about how I got to be who I am!"  We can share our grief and our love.  For it wouldn't hurt if we didn't love.

You will see people remembering their own mothers who have passed on. Posting pictures or writing about them.  Saying how much they are missed and loved.  Perhaps sharing what their moms meant to them or taught them.

You will see people who have lost children posting about their loss. Just like I'm doing here.  Posting photos of those we have lost is a way of honoring their importance in our lives.  A way of showing the world that they lived, not that they died.  A sharing of our love and our loss.  It's a good thing, not a "depressing" one. Society sure as hell needs to get more comfortable with death, dying, and grieving.

So as you are celebrating Mother's day with your moms and with your children, stop for a moment and say a prayer for those who are not able to do so this day.

For all of those women who have lost their moms, this day is a reminder of what is missing in their lives.

For those who have had to bury a child, this day reminds them of what they had and was taken from them too soon.

For the record, having other children does not lessen the loss of the one that died.  Not at all.

For those who have had pregnancy losses or difficulty conceiving, yet want nothing more than to be a mom, they deserve to have their sadness and pain acknowledged, too. This day is hard and downright painful for all of us who belong to this 'club'.

These bereaved moms may not all share what they are thinking or feeling, but they are hurting.  If you know, reach out to them.  Comment on their posts and simply say you are sorry or that you are sending them love and keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.

The good news is, no matter whether or not your mothers or your children are alive or in the next place, love never, ever dies.  We remember them.  We share about them because we love them. Not loved, LOVE.  We will always love them.  For who they were.  For what they taught us.  For who they helped us become.

For all the moms out there, I wish you a peaceful and blessed Mother's Day.  If you are grieving, I hold you all in my heart this day with wishes for peace and healing.  I'm so very sorry for your loss and your pain. May the love and light of your loved ones surround you today and always.

My boys and I at my wedding to Joe

My mom and I

Peek a Meggie - I carried her with me on my wedding day