For me, this Mother’s Day will be different. I have been a mother for almost nine years, and have six kids, but this year will be the first Mother’s Day when one of my children is already gone, and to be preceded by your infant to heaven is a very strange feeling. They are extremely close to you, and more alive than ever in your heart, but your arms are empty.
I know I’m not alone, because as taboo and hidden a topic as it is, stillbirth happens — according to Still Life Canada, 2.6 million times per year in the world. Once you say it happened to you, it is alarming how many of those around you admit that it happened to them, too. No one wanted to be the first to bring it up.
It is hard to talk about, but if you have experienced miscarriage, still birth or infant loss, I encourage you to reach out and share your pain with others. This honesty about your woundedness opens you to the hope and healing that others can provide. You have become part of a very strange club, one you’d never choose to join, but one that is filled with some of the most beautiful, strong and compassionate women I know.
One resource I want to recommend for connecting with other bereaved mothers is an online program run by my former midwife called Mothering Your Heart. There is a tasteful and encouraging Facebook page where you can connect and share, as well as a series of daily emails you can sign up for to boost your spirit.
The fact is, some of us need this boost as Mother’s Day approaches because it is a day which can be heartbreaking for those for those who do not have their children with them on earth, or are missing one of their little ones who has gone before the others.
To be a mother, to say yes to life, is a very brave and vulnerable thing, because it is also a yes to the possibility of death. Indeed, it is certain that we will die, but is it worth hiding from life in order to avoid death? After trauma, it feels safer to lock ourselves in a cage to avoid possible future hurts, but I don’t think this is truly being alive.
To say yes to love, and yes to life, even when it contains the possibility of great pain and even death, is to be truly free. “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness,” says Jonathan Safran Foer.
And no matter what happens, your child is always with you, in spirit, living forever, even in your body. I was very consoled when a bereaved mom friend told me she had read that, because of blood crossover from the placenta to the mother in pregnancy, some of the DNA of each of our children circulates in our blood. So they are living in us, forever. Living in each sibling after them. Part of our family forever, and ever loved.
Anna Eastland blogs at Just East Of Crazy Land | Adventures in Parenting She is a Barefoot Books Ambassador.