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Mother's Day- Beyond a Loss

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Today we celebrate mothers all over the globe. It's our day to be pampered, enjoy meals with our families, and have our kids dote on us a little bit. We go out and enjoy a day trip somewhere special. All in all, it's a wonderful day.

But what about mothers that have experienced loss? For those of us that have sadly experienced pregnancy, infant, or child loss, Mother's Day can bring a tidal wave of emotions. Even years later, the hole left from that loss will still be there. Mother's Day will be bittersweet or even painful.

If you have experienced the loss of your child, you distinctly remember the second your world came to a stop around you. You probably felt like things would never be okay again. Nothing can ever fully take the pain of loss away, but there is light on the other side of that darkness.

Today marks the sixth Mother's Day since Sadie passed away. My family does a wonderful job of making the day special. Yes, that void is still there. I believe it will always be there. But the pain doesn't control my day. I embrace it and remember the one Mother's Day I did get to have with her. It is my hope that if you are struggling to cope with the emotions that come with loss, this post can help you find some peace.


My Story:

Sunday, May 11th, 2014- it was Mother's Day. My first since giving birth to our twin girls three months early. The last time I had been able to hold Sadie was Easter Sunday, the day they were two weeks old. She'd been too critically ill since that day to be held. She hadn't looked like herself and I had not even been able to bring myself to take pictures of her. We drove the two-and-a-half hours to the hospital to visit the girls.

A baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Sadie on Mother's Day, 2014.

By this point, they were each in different hospitals. Each staff had made gifts for me with their hand or footprints. I treasure those things to this day. After spending time with Sarah, we made the trip across the street to see Sadie. When I walked into her room, she looked so much better. It's hard to believe by looking at this image, but it was the most like herself she had looked in weeks.

She still wasn't quite to the point where I could hold her again (that would be three days later), but for the first time since Easter Sunday her siblings were allowed to see her and I could recognize my baby girl. I felt like it was the best Mother's Day gift I could have ever gotten.

If you are familiar with our story and with Sadie's Purpose, you know that this was not the end of Sadie's fight. You know that she is the driving force behind what I work towards every day- helping other families that are just beginning the toughest fight of their lives. Our angel left us in April of 2015. Losing a child is the worst pain a parent can experience. But I am living proof that you can move forward.

How to cope in the beginning:

Following the loss of a child, you feel like you're drowning and can't come back up for air. I haven't suffered a miscarriage, but I imagine the feeling is similar. When you deal with any loss, it is important to know the five stages of grief:

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Bargaining

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

It is also important to know that each person may experience these in a different order, and you may go through one or more of them more than one time. Maybe even for the rest of your life. This is okay! It is normal to hurt sometimes. Please note that if you feel like you may be a danger to yourself or anyone else, reach out and get help!

Allowing yourself to go through these stages and to fully process your grief is the first step towards healing. No one expects you to get back to life as if nothing has happened after just a few days' time. Don't feel guilty about needing to take time for yourself to help come to terms with your pain. Only you can decide when you are ready to find your new normal.

Healing for the long-term:

Once you have found your new normal things will get easier. You will still have some bad days, but the good begins to outweigh the bad again. After a while, the anniversaries get easier to cope with. I remember the first time I made it through one of our monthly anniversaries without tears. It was a big win for me.

You will still have triggers, dreams, and just simply hard days. There are some things I do to help with this that may help you as well.

  • Talk to someone: don't hide the pain. Talk with your partner, your other children, a friend, a support group, or anyone else that will listen to you without judgment. Sometimes all you need is a good cry and to get those feelings into words.

  • Create a space to go when you need solitude: Sadie has a memory garden in our yard (pictured below). I love to go out there and sit and watch the birds. It helps me feel close to her.

  • Find purpose in the pain: some people find a way to channel their pain into something good. I started Sadie's Purpose to help other families with babies in the NICU. I started this blog with the dream of helping fund necrotizing enterocolitis research to save babies. I know of people who have nonprofits to donate books for families to read to their babies, or they raise money to buy life-saving equipment. You could simply volunteer in the hospital. Some people make and donate blankets or clothing to the NICU. Any of these things can help you feel like your child's death was not in vain.

A memory garden for a baby.
Sadie's memory garden.

Nothing about loss is easy. You will probably never be the same person. But you can move forward from grief and live a happy life without guilt. Continuing to enjoy life with your partner or your children should not make you feel guilty. Those other people in your life need you. And they deserve all of you. Not part of you while the rest of you is stuck in the darkness of grief. The book by my wonderful friend Jennifer Tracy, "From the Deepest Darkness to the Light of Hope," * is a fantastic resource for anyone coping with grief or loss. Jennifer speaks to you through her book like she is talking with a dear friend.

It is my sincere hope that if you are struggling with grief and loss of any kind, you can find some comfort and peace from this post. You are not alone. It is okay to hurt and to allow yourself to feel that pain. But know that there is light at the end of that tunnel, and you deserve to live in that light, not in darkness.

"When the world says give up, hope whispers try one more time."

- King Tut

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