Dear Motherless on Mother’s Day,
This time of the year can be rough for us who no longer have our mothers with us. Seeing others making plans with their moms can evoke all kinds of feelings—jealousy, grief, sadness, etc.
My mom died on May 9, 2017. It was the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. The void didn’t really hit me at that time because I was still in shock. Plus, in the days immediately following a loved one’s death, we’re inundated with phone calls, texts, and visits. Grief is often truly felt in the days when everyone else’s life goes back to normal and those immediately impacted by death must learn to adjust.
I get it. I live it. And just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on grief, it throws me a curveball.
This past week, the grief about my mother’s death and the dread of Mother’s Day have been worst than in previous years. Maybe it’s because her death date and Mother’s Day are the same this year. Who knows? I could speculate all day long, but the bottom line is that things have been emotionally tough lately.
Whether you’ve recently lost your mother or she died years ago, if you find yourself struggling on this day, I want to offer words that I hope will help you.
It’s okay to miss her. Deep folks like to comfort us with Scripture about how our loved ones are in a better place now. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). They mean well, but sometimes those words are just that . . . words. Of course, it’s good to have the assurance that our loved ones are with Jesus after they die. That doesn’t negate our feelings of missing them. Don’t feel bad or guilty because you do. My mom was sick and in pain. I am glad that she’s no longer suffering. Yet, I still miss her, and I refuse to feel bad about that.
Tell others how you are feeling. I struggled all week. Actually, the struggle began several weeks ago as I knew of this day approaching. The closer this day got, the worse I began to feel. I cried off and on all week, sometimes without warning. When I first recognized the struggle of this day, I shared my feelings with others and asked them to pray for me. Despite a very rough emotional week, the heaviness began to lift yesterday. Today has been filled with laughter and joy. No tears, although tears would have been okay, too! I know that the prayers of my family and friends got me through this moment. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling. Compassionate people will not tell you that you should be over grief by now. They will pray you through it! Everyone may not understand, so seek God for discernment about those with whom you can share.
Reminisce. My mother has left me with plenty of memories. I think of things that she said or did, and I’m filled with joy, laughter, and life lessons. Let’s be real. All memories aren’t pleasant. There were times when she made me mad or hurt my feelings. I even cherish those memories because they are a testament to the unconditional love that she taught me. There are times when my mother worked my last nerve. (Best believe that she’s telling Jesus the same thing about me! Lol.) Nevertheless, there was something about the love we shared that overrode any less-than-pleasant experiences. No matter what, we looked out for one another.
I remember the day she died like it was yesterday . . .
“Hey,” I said to my mom as she lay barely conscious. “I hear that you’re about to go see Jesus. I don’t like that you’re leaving, but I’m happy for you that you’ll no longer be in pain.” I tried to keep my voice steady, although tears raced down my face. I told her a bunch of stuff, such as how it was an honor to be her caregiver, that the kids and I would be okay, and that I appreciate everything she ever taught me. “I love you, lady,” I said.
She opened her eyes. Although she couldn’t talk and I know she was in pain, she mouthed the words, “I love you.”
That was the last time she opened her eyes or attempted to say anything. Later that afternoon, she passed.
Four years later, I am still grateful for that moment with her. It gives me such peace to know that I did everything in my power to care for her. I appreciate my husband who never batted an eye or said a negative word when she had to come live with us. I am thankful for my children who adjusted without complaint. I am glad that she didn’t have to take her final breath alone. I was there along with other family members. As I reminisce about life with her, I think about her death. Although I don’t think I would have ever wanted to let her go, I am glad that she went peacefully in the presence of her family.
I realize that every motherless person may not have gotten a chance like that. Maybe your mother passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe your relationship with her was strained, or perhaps you didn’t treat her as you should have or vice versa. If your mom wasn’t good to you, forgive her. If you weren’t good to her, forgive yourself. Such scenarios are sure to only exacerbate your grief. My advice to you is not to live in the land of woulddas, shoulddas, and coulddas. Ask what you can learn from past experiences to make your current and future ones better.
I am still learning from my mommy, and I always will. Sometimes when something happens, I think, “Wig would have . . . .” (Wig was her nickname.) I even find myself saying things that she would have said. Her fingerprint is very much imprinted on my life. I am who I am because she was who she was.
To the motherless on Mother’s Day, although your mother is not physically with you, part of her still lives on in you . . . you are her legacy! Continue to make her proud!
Jesus, I ask that You be with all who have a difficult time with the loss of their mothers. Only You know the depth of their struggles. Only You can help them through these tough times. Thank You for the gift of my mother. I know that You are caring for her better than I ever could. Give her a big hug and kiss for me, and tell her that I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”