The season of grief – Mother’s Day and beyond.

My beautiful Dad created this image of all three of my boys.

My beautiful Dad created this image of all three of my boys.

My annual season of grief has begun. It starts with the memories of two little boys whom I never met, but hold dear. March & April saw their respective anniversaries. I remember those two little boys always. But on the days belonging to them, I spent some time thinking about them and their dear mothers.

Since I lost Xavier, ANZAC day has gained a different kind of meaning. I remember the first ANZAC day after I lost Xavier. For the first time in my life, I did not think of the diggers and their sacrifices during the minute silence. I thought instead of their mothers, their children and the memories that would never be made. I thought about grandchildren who would never been born and worlds shattered that had to continue turning. I have no experience of a battle field. I don’t know what horrors lie there. I don’t pretend my grief is the same as the mother who loses her adult son to the bloody futility of war, but I know a little of that pain. I know how life cracks when a parent buries their child.

May holds Mother’s Day and duality of emotions. Elation that I get to celebrate my two boys on earth and an aching sadness for the one not here. Doubt as I receive presents heralding me as “World’s Best Mum”. For clearly, I am not. The World’s Best Mum would have saved her child. The happiest days can be the hardest. Pressure to be jovial for the children in your arms and pressure to grieve harder for the one not there. Always trying to make space for all three of them, and not always succeeding – they live on such different planes. Mother’s Day will see a six year old attempt breakfast, a nearly two year old smother me in kisses and a nearly three year old visited at a gravesite. Joy and hope and love and sadness all intermingled with an intensified poignancy that only occurs on certain days during the year.

June will see Xavier’s birthday and July will see his anniversary. Three years. How can that be? My tiny little baby, three years old. Three year olds are joy personified. They are full of verve and life. They are the antithesis of sadness. Three seems to have very little to do with my Xavier.  My forever newborn son.

In Australia, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of May. It can be one of the hardest days in the year for a bereaved mother.

Here is what I have found helpful to get through it:

  1. If it’s important to you that your partner get you something on behalf of your child, let them know. I know you don’t want to have to do that, but it’s better than seething all day if it doesn’t happen. They may not realise how very important it is to you.
  2. Let another bereaved mother know that you are thinking of them. Carly Marie does a range of beautiful cards specifically for bereaved mothers.
  3. Set aside some time to spend with your child. Let your loved ones know that you need that time.
  4. Be prepared for the day to be hard. I am always surprised by how difficult Mother’s Day is.
  5. Step away from social media if seeing pictures of perfect families is all too much. You don’t have to torture yourself.

Be gentle with yourself this Mother’s Day.

 

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Mothers Day

There are days in the year that tear me in two.   Christmas, Birthdays, Fathers Day, Mothers Day.   There is the joy and the noise.  The handmade cards and the sticky kisses.  The impractical gifts and the restaurant meal. Hugs and laughter.  One side of the coin.  The other side yearns for solitude in the midst of all the excitement.  Wishes for a moment of a peace and reflection.  And more than anything, wishes another little voice joined in the commotion.

Mothers day is hard for a lot of people.  Those that have lost their own mums.  Those, like me, that have a child or children in heaven.  Those that have tried and tried to fall pregnant only to face another mother’s day without a baby in their arms.  Those that yearn with all their hearts for a child but know it’s a wish that will never be granted.    It is a day filled with flowers, breakfasts in bed and handmade cards.  But it also a day filled with pain and yearning for so many.   And all of those people deserve a little love on Mothers Day.

I am fortunate to be celebrating today with my two earth-side boys, my mum, my grandmother and my mother-in-law.   Surrounded by beautiful family.  There is, as always, much to be grateful for.  There is, as always, much to turn my mind from Xavier.  The pain of missing him, now just a dull ache where once it was piercing, seems at odds with the day.  And yet, it must be part of the day.  I find it easier to reconcile my feelings on his birthday or anniversary.  They are clearly days to be in remembrance of him.  Clearly days when tears and reflection are appropriate.  Days that belong just to him.  The days that tear me apart belong in part to my living family and in part to the one who has gone where I cannot.  These are the days when I must learn to integrate the joy and the sadness.

Today, I think of my mum, who is a beautiful, unique and talented soul.  She has given me everything and I love her more than she knows.  I think of my grandmother, who continues to live an enviably full life and is one of the most peaceful people I could ever meet.  I think of my mother in law, who never stops for even a moment and would do anything for her children and grandchildren.  I think of my boys.  My eldest, crazy and wild, funny and loving.   My youngest, gorgeous and curious, healing in his very bones.  My middle son, never far from my mind and always in my heart.

Happy Mothers Day to all.