As a child, I remember proudly presenting handmade gifts to my Mother for Mother’s Day. Maybe I made her a card, picked her a flower, or gave her a gift we had made at school. I always wanted her to feel special on her special day. She was, after all, THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!
I also remember a tradition we had of picking a rose off her rosebush, pinning it to our dresses (or shirts for the guys), and wearing it to church. The roses were burgundy red, and had the sweetest scent. The tradition was to wear a red flower for a living mother or to wear a white one if your mother was deceased. I never knew where this tradition came from, but we did it for many years.
Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2002. I was married and expecting our first baby that fall. I arrived at church and was surprised to see that my Mother wasn’t there. I assumed she was sick because that was the only reason she ever missed church. Later, I went to visit her that day to give her a Mother’s Day gift. She apologetically told me that she wasn’t sick. It was just too hard to be in church that day.
It was her first Mother’s Day without her mother.
And, this confused me a bit. While I understood she was grieving the loss of her mother (8 months earlier), she also WAS a mother. Wouldn’t she want to hear a sermon extolling the virtues of a Godly mother? Wouldn’t she want to see her children at church? Wouldn’t she want to be reminded of all the wonderful memories she had of her mother?
Clearly, I was so very ignorant then of the crushing grief of losing your mother.
But now I have clarity.
If we still had the tradition of wearing a flower to church on Mother’s Day, this would be the third Mother’s Day I would be wearing a white one.
After my Mother passed, I had many people tell me how hard church was after the loss of their mother. I was surprised by the amount of women who told me they did not attend church on Mother’s Day for many years after the loss of their mother. In my stubbornness, I was determined to do so.
And I did. I made it through the kids’ choir singing about mothers and what a gift they are. I survived the special music paying homage to Godly mothers. I listened to the sermon about the Proverbs 31 woman and how blessed we are if we had a Godly mother. And, I am most blessed because my Mother truly was a Godly woman. I received with gladness the gifts my children gave me.
I survived the day, but that evening I absolutely and completely broke down. I’m not talking about a stray tear trickling down my cheek. I mean I was on my bed, weeping. My entire body was wracked with sobs as I mourned the loss of my sweet Mother.
And, last year, I thought it might be better, but shopping in April proved otherwise. I realized I was finding all sorts of things my Mother would love for a Mother’s Day gift. Thankfully, I was alone when I realized what I was doing and that no gift would be purchased. I had to flee the store to cry in my car.
Please hear me: I do not begrudge a single person the gift of their mothers. I am so very thankful most of my friends still have theirs and some even have their grandmothers as well. I love seeing the pictures and posts about how much they love their mothers.
I just miss mine. SO MUCH.
And, the 9,687,000 emails I receive starting in late March about “getting that perfect Mother’s Day gift” just remind me of my loss.
I get it now.
Although I am so extraordinarily thankful to have my children and have them honor me on Mother’s Day, I also am acutely aware of the loss of my precious Mother.
Although I am so very grateful that the Lord chose to bless me with such a Godly woman as my Mother, I can still sharply feel the sting of her loss.
As I accept gifts or words of praise from my children, I wish I would give the same to my Mother one more time.
Grief is like that. You’ll be fine one day, telling stories about your departed loved one and the next day it may be entirely too hard.
I’m here to tell you: IT IS OKAY. It is okay to be happy and joyfully share memories of your own mother.
It is okay to break down.
It is okay to cry.
It is okay to be happy with your children on Mother’s Day and be sad and miss your own Mother.
And, thankfully, our Savior is no stranger to our feelings and grief: Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”