Surviving Loss: Navigating Mother’s Day After Losing a Child

Ever since I was a young girl, giving birth to a child has been one of my biggest dreams. I wanted a child to love, hold and cherish. A child that I could love totally and would love me unconditionally. After an emergency hospital visit while I was 38 weeks pregnant, Courtney came bounding into this world two weeks early.

She was my pride and joy with fuzzy cue-ball hair, blue eyes, and a round face. From the moment she was placed into my arms, I knew this was meant to be.

My first Mother’s Day was one of the most endearing moments as a mother. Although she was only eight and one-half months old, she brought joy to my heart. It swelled with love; absolute love that is beyond compare. Her smile lit up the room and she was just beginning to crawl.

All that was dashed when a few short weeks later she died in an accident. My heart felt like a dagger had been thrust deep into it, then twisted around and around to do as much damage as possible, finally being left there to hang adding to the pain I was already experiencing.

It is said that losing a child is one of the most heart-wrenching things that can happen to a mother. I can attest to that pain, longing for her presence and yearning to hold her.

Thirty-three years have passed since that horrible day. I look back on it now and remember that I once had pain. Today I focus on the memories.

Since that fateful day in 1991, I have lost a second child. My only son died by suicide over 5 years ago. The pain, longing, and yearning came back as an unwelcome friend.

As result of losing two children, I have become resilient, perseverant, and strong. It is like morphing from a caterpillar wrapped into an ugly cocoon that emerges as a beautiful butterfly. I am that butterfly with unique experiences and colors that make me who I am.

I am blessed to have two grown daughters and 3 grandchildren.

I want to share with you how I managed to navigate the loss of two children live a productive, joy-filled life.

Top Tips to Cope with Mother’s Day.
  • Stay in the present moment. While this is difficult, focus on the fact that you are still alive and there are other people who care about you and love you. Give these activities a turn:
    • Write down 3 things that you are grateful for in the moment, in the day.
    • Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Practice self-care. Mother’s Day can be an emotional day. So, taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is crucial. Make time for activities that nourish and rejuvenate you. Self-care encompasses many things. Give these activities a turn:
    • Take a nap.
    • Get a massage.
    • Eat healthy food.
    • Surround yourself with friends.
    • Practice yoga.
    • Exercise.
    • Drink water.
    • Pray.
  • Give yourself permission to experience opposing emotions. You might feel joy and sorrow at the same time. This is common after the loss of a child so embrace it. Feeling the pain is part of the healing process. Although it hurts now, you will get through it. Give these activities a turn:
    • Listen to songs that your child enjoyed and that you enjoyed because of your child.
    • Write a love letter to your child.
  • Give back to others. When you focus on doing things for others, it takes the focus off your troubles. Helping others triggers the release of oxytocin which has the effect of boosting your mood. The more oxytocin the more serotonin and dopamine. Give these activities a turn:
    • Open the door for a stranger.
    • Buy someone’s groceries.
    • Allow someone to go in front of you on the highway or at the checkout register.
    • Express your love to others with a phone call or text.
  • Set an intention for the day. It is Mother’s Day after all, and you get to decide what you would like to do. One of the things that is so often taken from us as mothers who have lost a child is our perception of control. By setting an intention, making plans you are giving yourself a sense of purpose and direction. It is a small step in healing. Give these activities a turn:
    • Plan self-care activities.
    • Spend time with family.
    • Do something to honor your child.
Remember, always remember that you are a mother. No-one, nothing, not even not having your child with you, can take that away. You will always be a mother.
If you are having difficulty and need additional support, reach out to me for your free coaching session. Click here to schedule: Home – The Grief Specialist
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