May 12, 2024

The Heaviness of Mother’s Day Grief.

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“One day we will remember how lucky we were to have known their love, with wonder, not grief.” ~ Elizabeth Postle

 

There’s something about the weight of grief, the sometimes unbearable heaviness, that is suffocating.

An intensity that can be overbearing. Like you are wearing impenetrable armour that deflects anything but your sorrow. Your sadness. Your loss. That keeps you confined and restricted in your pain. Unable to move. Unable to escape.

Even when your mind is clear and you’re maybe feeling some happiness, even joy, your body feels it. Your body always feels it.

It’s been a hectic few weeks. Supporting my clients on their own grief and loss journeys. Spending precious time with my granddaughter and preparing myself to drive up north and care for my dad after hip replacement surgery. I’ve had little time to myself and even less time to dwell on things. But as the weeks and days have progressed and neared closer to this day, my body has been behaving and reacting unlike itself. I’ve had headaches and body aches. I’ve felt more fatigued and had some uncomfortable digestive issues and a change in appetite. I’ve been too busy to analyse the situation and assess why I’ve felt rundown and restless. Until today. Until it struck me that my body has been holding it all. All the sadness, grief, and loss that Mother’s Day was going to bring. It hit me like a freight train.

It’s my second Mother’s Day without my mum. And this year I’m up north caring for my dad and not spending time with my own kids and granddaughter. It seems trivial. Others may see it is insignificant in the scheme of things. Inconsequential, even. I mean, my dad’s hip surgery was a success. I have two amazing kids and a beautiful granddaughter. I’m doing well in life and I do important work that aligns with every cell of who I am. I am happy within myself, yet in the last few weeks I have had this pervading heaviness. Clinging to me like a shadow. Quietly building. Shifting throughout me uncomfortably but not so uncomfortable that it stopped me. Just enough to make me aware something was looming.

Until today. Until the moment I have realised that today is Mother’s Day and my mum is gone. Today is Mother’s day and I’m away from my kids. Today is Mother’s Day and for some of us it’s a challenging day. A day of quiet reflection rather than celebration.

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers, and that’s a precious thing. A gift. But for some it’s a painful reminder of what they have lost. Or perhaps what they have never had the chance to have. It’s the people who have lost their mothers. Grandmothers. It’s the mothers who have lost their kids. The fathers who have lost their wives, their kids’ mothers. The women who could never have kids. The others who are away from their kids. It’s the women who had miscarriages. Who gave their kids up for adoption. The women grieving abortions. It’s not the experience but rather the feelings the experience has caused. And we need to honour and respect how another is feeling, regardless of our own personal thoughts.

It’s the longing for another time. A time before the loss and the grief. A time before we knew such pain. And Mother’s Day can be a brutal nudge straight in the heart that we don’t have those things anymore. That our life has fundamentally changed.

Loss is a personal experience and our grief can be devastating, regardless of the loss we have faced. Losing an elderly mother seems fairer than losing a child and I think most of us see losing a child as the most shockingly catastrophic loss one can ever experience, but the grief and all her associated painful feelings can be just as cruel, no matter our loss.

My heart feels like she needs a warm embrace today. The little girl inside of me wishes my mum was here, the way I used to wish the rain drops that glistened in the garden were fairies. With all the hope and magic that little girls see. That she was here to wipe my tears away. The tears that are spilling out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks, as I am drawn to write what’s inside of me. The grown woman inside of me longs to sit and talk to her about life. About everything that’s happened since she left. About how Mother’s Day is not the same when your mum is gone. How it will never be the same again. The mother inside of me wishes I could hug my own kids and listen to my granddaughter’s squeal of delight every time she sees me.

It’s just a day, I tell myself. It’s just another day. No different from yesterday and probably will be similar to tomorrow. I’m so aware of how blessed I am and I am grateful for all that I have and I realise when I say this to myself that I’m invalidating my own feelings. I’m trying to gloss over my sadness, like I shouldn’t feel sad about losing my mum. That I shouldn’t feel sad from being away from my kids. Because others have it worse. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel my sadness or I should hide how I’m feeling. It’s what I remind my clients of all the time; your grief is important. How you feel matters. Your happiness can coexist with your sadness and your joy can coexist with your grief.

So once again I invite my grief in to spend some time with me. To show me how much I’ve loved and that those losses may have fractured my heart but if I acknowledge my grief and accept she’s going to visit from time to time, those fractures will slowly start to heal a little.

So many people facing Mother’s Day, wishing they could just go to sleep and wake up tomorrow when it’s all over. Feeling the loss in every part of their being. Being enveloped by the void. The pieces that are missing. Every loss they’ve faced in their life front and centre, like a fashion show. Each loss twirling down the runway, vying for attention because that’s what our losses do. That’s what our grief does. Like a domino effect, every loss comes to say hello. Even the losses from years ago, even decades ago. Because they all still reside within us. Quietly. Unassuming. Buried. But nonetheless still there. Because they are now part of us. They form the pieces of who we are. They changed the course of our lives. And they forever remind us of how large our heart is.

Love and grief, two opposing feelings at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet so closely aligned. Entwined with each other. If we love, we will inevitably face grief. When we grieve, we feel the depth of love. It’s inescapable. It’s life.

Instead of Happy Mother’s Day, I say I’m thinking of you. I say I’m sending love. I say I appreciate you. I say I hear you and I see you. I say it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to be reminded of all that love. It’s okay to cry.

Our experiences may be different. Our losses may not be the same. But we can feel that collective grief. That sorrow. That longing. Those memories and moments. They can be felt. They will always be felt, on days like today. I miss my mum. I miss my kids. I miss all of my losses that have decided to appear and today I’ll allow myself to feel it. To sit with it. To remember. To wrap them up and gently hold them because they want to be felt. They want to be acknowledged. They want to be remembered. They want me to know they are part of me and they will always be part of me.

~

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