Mother’s Day had been one of the most dreaded days of my life for a long time–until I learned that guilt can be overcome and forgiveness can take place after the death of your mother.

The Mother’s Day before the loss of my stillborn son, I did something that was so out of character for me that I still cannot believe I did it.  I totally ignored my mother on Mother’s Day, and I did it knowing that I would hurt her deeply.  I was angry with her for being an alcoholic.  I was angry with her for ruining her health.  Mostly, I was angry with her for not being the mother I thought she should be. So I foolishly and selfishly made the decision to withhold love from my mother on that particular Mother’s Day.  I’ve never viewed Mother’s Day the same since.

Life never gives us everything we want or everything we think we need.  My mother had problems dealing with depression.  She had a serious physical illness since she was 30 that left her dealing with physical and mental pain.  She was a full-blown alcoholic shedding her misery on others every day of her life.  And I wasn’t happy about that.  Why, I asked myself, should I buy her a card with all kinds of flattery and tell her things that weren’t true?  Why should I shower my mother with love when she would be too drunk to even read a card from me?

She asked for a simple gift that year.  She wanted a lawn chair — the inexpensive kind that can be folded and carried any place.  She wanted a $10 lawn chair, and I wouldn’t give her that as a gift.  I didn’t acknowledge her at all on Mother’s Day.  I shamefully didn’t even give her a card or a phone call.

Little did I know that my mother would never again see another Mother’s Day.  She died 10 months later from complications of the liver brought on by her constant drinking.

God, in His mercy, allowed me to hold my mother’s hand as she drew her final breath, yet I never spoke the words I wanted to say to her.  I never said, “Mom, I love you so much, and I’m so ashamed of myself for not thanking you for giving me life, for taking care of me when I was young, for teaching me about God, and for trying your best.”

Instead, I pulled inward and kept that wall between us as she feebly took her last breath.  My mother was gone, and I was left with guilt. Guilt for not being the daughter I should have been to my mother.  Guilt for not acknowledging my mother on her final Mother’s Day on this earth.  Guilt for not getting her the lawn chair that she wanted!

I have had lots of time to repent, and it has taken me years to finally feel the heavy weight of guilt removed from my heart.  I learned an eternal lesson that I want to pass on to others for this Mother’s Day, and for every Mother’s Day to come.

Please don’t ever deny your mother the gift of love even if you think she doesn’t deserve it.  You have been given one mother, and it is both an honor and a privilege to show your mother that you care even if that love is never reciprocated.  Every mother needs to be hugged, loved, and treated special, and most especially on this day set aside for honoring mothers.  I’ve also learned that you can still be a loving daughter even after the death of your mother.

I miss my mother, and I have wished thousands of times over that I could tell her what I feel in my heart. I have visited her gravesite and talked with her.  I have written her letters and asked for her forgiveness.  I have even bought her a lawn chair!  In fact, every year since the death of my mother, I buy one lawn chair and give that chair to someone who might enjoy just sitting in the sunshine for a while.

Life without mother on Mother’s Day was often empty and hollow.  Add guilt to that, and it was horrible.  The good news is that healing can take place, and you can continue to honor your mother even after she has left this earthly life!

This Mother’s Day, I will be shopping for a lawn chair once again to give away in honor of my mother.  Mom, I love you!

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Clara Hinton

Clara Hinton has a burning passion to lend support to parents grieving the loss of a child. At the age of 15, Clara’s 13-year-old sister died tragically, and that loss began a series of events in her life that made grief all-too-real. While experiencing the blessing of living children, Clara has also felt the pain of losing six children due to miscarriage and has delivered one stillborn son. Knowing the grief of child-loss first-hand prompted Clara to write a book, Silent Grief is a grief support website for parents seeking support while going through the pain of loss. Clara also teaches grief coping skills on college campuses, as well as coordinates grief workshops for schools, churches, and hospitals. The first Silent Grief Retreat for Bereaved Parents was held in October 2008, and the Retreats are now planned to be an annual coming together for bereaved parents. Clara appeared on the “Healing the Grieving Heart Radio Show” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss “Finding Your Way After Sibling and Child Loss.” To hear Clara being interviewed on this show, go to the following link:

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