With Mother’s Day quickly approaching (in the U.S.), my thoughts become more focused on my son, Connor, and all children who have died too soon. Of course, Conner is always on my mind, but during this time of year, everything is so focused on motherhood that I can’t help but think of him even more.
While traveling around giving presentations on child loss, and while promoting my book about child loss, I have had many mothers ask me the same question, “Am I still a mother if my child died?” My answer is always an emphatic, “YES!”
Regardless of whether you have children who walk on earth or soar in heaven, you are still a mother. Many women I meet have had only one child or have lost their child while pregnant. Are you still a mother? Of course! We are divine mothers, no matter where our children may reside.
No matter how old your child was when he or she died, no matter what religion a person belongs to or what they believe about an afterlife, I believe that those of us who have lost a child have many common bonds—both in our loss, and in our belief that our children are in a better place, waiting for us to join them.
It is so very hard on holidays to be without our children, but there are things we can do to memorialize and honor our children.
On Mother’s Day each year, I begin my day with a prayer, thanking my Father in heaven for the opportunity I have to be a mother. Then I drive with my family members to my son’s grave and plant a flower that will bloom continually throughout the season. It is usually the flower given to us at church. We are usually given Geraniums as we leave our sacrament meeting, and I have planted this flower each year at my son’s grave. In some small way, it makes me still feel like his mother. I may not be able to take care of his daily needs, but I can at least take care of the place of his burial.
One year, our church decided to give each mother in the congregation a red rose—instead of the classic Geranium. As I stood there, waiting to receiving my rose, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Knowing I wouldn’t have a flower to plant at my son’s grave was just too much.
So after the service, my husband drove to a local greenhouse and purchased the biggest Geranium he could find. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness and by this simple act. He knew how important it was to me to plant that at our son’s grave, so he made sure it happened.
Having support from friends, family, and loved ones help make tragedies more bearable. However, we can get through the holidays without that support. It all comes from within. Our inner selves have the power and capability to endure. To me, the easy way out is to wallow in my misery. Instead, I choose to fight back and “live.” I know my son is with me in spirit, so I choose to make him proud of the person I am here on earth until we can be together again in heaven.
Don’t get me wrong—there are many times I succumb to the emotions that overwhelm me. Often a good cry is exactly what I need to rise from my sorrow and see a better world. Tears are a powerful healing tool. They are like a fresh spring rain cleansing the world of impurities. Yet we can’t let them be the only tool in our arsenal—especially around the holidays.
Here are a few of the many ideas I do to honor my child:
- Create new memories by doing kindness to others in memory of your child.
- Plant a new tree, plant, or flowers in their memory — something you can watch as it grows and develops over time.
- Donate to your favorite charity in your child’s name.
- Release biodegradable balloons with notes to heaven written on them.
- Visit other grave sites of lost loved ones and leave a special note.
- Light a candle in memory of your child.
There are so many ways we can live our lives after the loss of a child, and only we can choose the path we are going to take. Make your child proud by doing things in their memory and by doing kindness toward others in their honor.
I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts about Mother’s Day and any new ideas you may have for honoring our children who soar. Always remember; you are a mother regardless of where your child is, and you will be together again someday. Until that time, let’s make the world a better place one random act of kindness at a time, in honor of our children.