Bookends. It's the only word I can think of to describe my Mother’s Day. I knew it would be like that, but it was still difficult. Bookends of grief.
I received my first bookend of grief 23 years ago when my mom died. I was 12 and my brother was 14. I didn’t grieve that loss until decades later. The pain and loss came to the surface in many different and typically inappropriate ways. That became even more evident the year I was planning my wedding and I felt so lonely for my mom. I knew that life transitions bring out unresolved grief; I just didn’t know that I had so much unresolved grief inside. Everything on the surface looked good - a successful career, a home, and I was getting married. Life appeared great – except for that gaping hole inside.
Thankfully, I realized that I had to address my pain because I knew that it would come back again when I got pregnant and I didn’t want to put my child through ‘mommy’s emotional roller coaster’. We made some important and dramatic lifestyle choices that allowed me to focus on healthy grieving. I was able to address the loss through counseling and a Grief Share support group. I had no idea at the time the importance of that decision.
When the anniversary of my mom’s death arrived in March, I shared with someone that I had never felt so at peace about the loss. Not that I was OK with it or would choose it, but that I finally felt like I was at a place of acceptance. Maybe it was the work I had done in the last year in preparation to have a baby or maybe it was because I was pregnant and I felt a new sense of hope related to motherhood. As I look back now, it is so interesting to recall that conversation – I had no idea how important that acceptance would be.
When we found out we were pregnant in December, it was like a dream come true. Finally. We had waited so long to have a baby. When a friend at church found out he said, “If Mother’s Day was today you would qualify.” I kept remembering that conversation yesterday. I still qualify. But it isn’t the way I thought it would be.
My second bookend of grief arrived on March 24 when we found out at 16 weeks that our baby wasn’t expected to live. It was just a week after I had told my friend I was in such a great place emotionally. It all changed in an instant. Anyone who says that words don’t matter has never been told that someone they love is going to die. Words change lives.
“I don’t hear a heartbeat.”
Words change lives.
Mother’s Day this year had a new dimension that I never imagined. Even with the new found place of acceptance regarding the loss of my mom, I still missed her on Mother’s Day. To no longer have Chloe in my belly made it even harder. I felt so lonely for both of them.
I decided not to go to church. I knew it would be a day of celebration for everyone else and I didn’t feel like celebrating. And I didn’t feel strong enough to put on a happy face and celebrate for them. It was the right decision for me; I am sure that next year I will be in a better place. I “hid” at home all day and read and watched TV. I knew I was escaping and avoiding, but I just couldn’t do anything else. I felt my mind shut down when I thought about my mom or Chloe – it was too much. Too raw. I know it won’t always be like this. But yesterday it was, and that is OK.
4 months ago