I’ve only recently learned of International Bereaved Mother’s Day, and I have to say that my first thought was that I was not impressed. After all, to be a bereaved mother you must be a mother first. The one denotes the other. So secondly, (here in the USA at least ) can’t I just celebrate my motherhood on the same day as everyone else? What I need is for my child, my daughter to be remembered and celebrated everyday, not on some pronounced day of solemn reflection that further singles me out from the rest of the mothers.
If you are not familiar with the history of Mother’s Day, you might be surprised to know that it was not invented by the greeting card industry to sell fifty million five-dollar one-liners once a year. It was actually invented by Anna Jarvis in 1908 to celebrate her own mother, Ann who though she gave birth to somewhere around twelve children, only four of them lived into adulthood. So the purpose and focus of this day was actually created to honor Anna’s mother due to her bereavements in motherhood.
I should point out that I do understand that healing aspect of this International Bereaved Mother’s Day of being given one more outlet to be able to freely acknowledge your deceased child. As the mother of a deceased child, society can make you feel that it’s not socially acceptable for you to talk openly about your child the way your friends and relatives talk about theirs. That it’s actually taboo for you to wish to mention your own child in public merely because he or she has died. But I personally still felt that I didn’t need any more segregation from myself and mothers of living children. I felt that I would celebrate my motherhood along with everyone else, on Mother’s Day, as it was originally intended.
Which is why, as I dug further into my investigation of International Bereaved Mother’s Day I was happy, if shocked to find that it is actually a temporary movement intended to refocus the true meaning of the original Mother’s Day, the acknowledgement of the bereaved mother. As stated on the official website for International Bereaved Mother’s Day; “If you have experienced the death of one or more of your children, struggle to conceive a child or are unable to fall pregnant at all, this day can often bring up feelings of isolation, unworthiness, pain and sadness. Much of society has forgotten the true meaning of Mother’s Day and fails to support and recognize all true mothers.”
No matter the tangibility of her child, a mother is one of heart and mind first, before she is ever one of physical presence. A mother’s journey begins long before she gives birth, and it doesn’t end when her child dies. If you know a woman who is a bereaved mother, please take a moment to be a friend and neighbor to this woman. Open your heart to her. Acknowledge the child in her life that you cannot see every day. Speak their name. Tell her you remember them, or ask to get to know them. Ask to hear their stories. This is the kindest and most compassionate thing you can do for her.
To learn more about International Bereaved Mother’s Day, please visit: http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/