Sometimes I find it hard to allow myself to feel sad or grieve on days that are supposed to be filled with love and cheer. But this Sunday I am wrestling with those very mixed emotions that seem to be competing for attention. Parts of me look forward to this day each year because I get to love on and spoil my mom, who is oh so deserving of this. But this year it feels a little different. This year I am grieving for my mom who lost her mother last August to cancer as I know that this day is going to be hard for her as she is unable to show her mom the love and cheer, she wishes she could. I am also sad when I think about the baby I lost to miscarriage in January and how I would give anything to still be pregnant with that child. This Mother’s Day I’m reminded of my grief while also feeling thankful for the women that have invested well in me...and that’s okay. I am giving myself permission this year to have those mixed emotions. I remind myself of Psalm 34 which says, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Here we are called to love and honor the Lord because he deserves that praise and glory. But it later says “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The people are being vulnerable to their pain and sorrow with God while showing their appreciation to the Lord. This scripture is reminding us that we are allowed to have those mixed emotions. We are allowed to both celebrate and mourn.
On January 12th, 2021, my husband and I went in for a 9-week ultrasound appointment. We were eager to hear our first baby’s heartbeat. But the appointment did not go as planned and all of a sudden, we listened to the doctor explain next steps and empathize with our loss. It felt unreal but too real at the same time. Tears fill my eyes now when thinking back to that day because it wasn’t supposed to go that way. I knew miscarriages were common, but I didn’t actually think that would happen to me. There was not anything I could do to fix it, there was nothing I did wrong to cause it, it was all out of my control and that felt tragic. Over the next several weeks I struggled for several reasons. I knew this process would be emotionally difficult, but my body also took a while to physically recover as well, which I wasn’t prepared for. I went to work each day pouring into the lives of others who were suffering without anyone knowing how I was going through my own suffering. Even though we told our families and closest friends, and my husband was an amazing support, I still felt alone. It is so hard to explain what it is like to feel so pregnant but not be. It is a pain I wish no one has to relate to.
Throughout the grieving process, I received a few pieces of encouragement from women who also suffered from a miscarriage or lost a child. Their words spoke into me and I hope can encourage you on whatever emotion you are experiencing on a day like today. One encouragement was to not judge yourself for how strong your emotions are. It is okay to still be sad and grieve no matter how long ago your loss was, who you lost, or how you lost the person you love. As a therapist it is only natural for me to encourage you to not push away these difficult emotions. I know how uncomfortable it is to experience them but that is a part of the healing process.
What helped me the most through this grief was reading over and over again this prayer.
Now, O Lord,
We remember your past faithfulness. We receive your present comforts. We await your future redemption.
Looking back on the Bible and remembering how faithful God has been in his promises to his people provides me with a lot of peace. I then remind myself of how faithful God has been in my own life therefore I can completely trust that he will be faithful again in fulfilling my deep desire to mother others, however that may look. The second is to receive his present comforts. I saw this in the many prayers of others and those who checked in on me, who allowed me to show my messy emotions with no judgement. Lastly, I remind myself of God’s ultimate redemptive plan. I know I will not grieve forever because God’s plan includes eternal joy and comfort far beyond the pain I currently feel. Even if you are grieving and sad, it doesn’t mean that you are not trusting in God’s faithfulness nor receiving his comfort. I completely trust him, but it doesn’t take away the loss I experienced and that’s okay.
This day is hard for those of us who have lost a child or mother, those who wish to be a mother but haven’t been able to, those of us who do not have the best relationship with their mother or children, or those of us who are struggling with adjusting to motherhood. Whether this day is filled with joy, sadness, or both, I hear you and am with you. We should reach out to one another, so we know that we are not alone in our suffering nor in our joy. And more importantly, we can go to the Lord with all emotions we feel on a day like today.