Honoring the Joy and Grief of Mother’s Day

by | May 12, 2017 | Church Life, Community, Gospel

Mother’s Day used to be much simpler to me. I had a wonderful mom and I truly enjoyed the chance to pause, remember all the ways she loved and cared for me, and tell her I was thankful. But two years ago I lost my beloved mom to suicide, and the Mother’s Day that followed her death was different. I remember grocery shopping a few weeks before Mother’s Day when a cheerful announcement broke through the sound system, “Mother’s Day is just around the corner! For all that she’s done for you, and all that she will do, take the time to show mom just how much you care.” An announcement that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past instead brought a lump to my throat that year.

It isn’t just my own grief that has changed my perspective on Mother’s Day. As I’ve walked with others through the devastating pain of abandonment, miscarriage, the death of a child, the death of a parent, infertility, and relational strife, my eyes have been opened to the grief often embedded within significant days. We absolutely should honor and remember and celebrate the mothers in our lives, but we should also be mindful of and loving toward those who greet Mother’s Day with a heavy heart. These people will be present in our churches on Sunday.

The Motherless

There are many that long to know their mother, but have never had the chance. Mother’s Day may be a time where they are left wondering what it would be like to have someone to celebrate.

Those Grieving the Death of Their Mother

Whether it’s someone’s first Mother’s Day without their mom, or their 50th, Mother’s Day will be hard for those who are grieving the death of their mom. The death of a parent you loved is something you never get over, but you may get to the point where the loss doesn’t feel quite as devastating. Mother’s Day is one of those days where the grief may again feel especially poignant.

Those Who Have a Strained or Non-Existent Relationship with Their Mom

If you’ve ever browsed the Mother’s Day card section, you’ll find there’s primarily one choice for the inside greeting; something along the lines of, “You’re an amazing mom! I’m so thankful for you!” But, those sentiments don’t ring true for all sons and daughters. What if your mom isn’t amazing? What if you aren’t even on speaking terms with her right now?

 Mothers Grieving the Death of a Child or Children

Losing a child is unimaginable. Miscarriages, still-births, the mother who has lost her adult child; they are all utterly devastating losses. There are so many women who will come to this Mother’s Day longing to hold a child or children who are no longer alive.

Those who Desperately Long to be a Mother

Motherhood is sacrificial, hard work. It’s also a gift, and a gift that many long for and pray for. There are so many women I know who are currently experiencing this identity-challenging grief. Mother’s Day sometimes leaves them wondering whether or not they need a child to fully be who God has made them to be.

By no means is this list exhaustive. People also don’t fit neatly into the categories I have described. But perhaps this list will help you approach Mother’s Day with an awareness of the whole body of Christ. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I remember the calls and texts I got that first Mother’s Day without my mom. One as simple as “I know today is hard. I’m praying for you.” That brief text was bearing my burden. It showed me I was loved and remembered, and it reminded me of Christ’s care and goodness in the midst of my pain.

To those who endure grief on Mother’s Day: I am deeply sorry. I hope you are touched with love today, somehow, through the pain. I hope you feel that your sorrows are seen, and that your love and your losses are honored.

Whether you approach Mother’s Day with joy, grief, or some mixture of the two, let us never forget our identity is not in being or not being a mother, it is in the cross-bought identity given to us by Jesus Christ. It is a good thing to be a mom, it is the best thing that we are loved, and forgiven, and brought into eternal relationship with Christ by his atoning work on the cross.

While you may be grieved in deep ways and that grief is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven profoundly content with his work in you through this grief. In heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed. You will no longer be grieved. May confidence in that hope sustain you.