Grieving the Loss of Your Mother on Mother’s Day

I dream about my mother at this time of year. I awake drenched in sweat and remember, she’s gone. She’s not here. I can’t pick up the phone and call her. I can’t buy her a gift for Mother’s Day. I cry at the stupidest little thing. A commercial. A post on Facebook of a tea party for a mom. A picture of fresh-cut flowers.

In the dreams I have of her, I never seem to say anything meaningful or profound to my mother. She is just there, like she used to be, rushing around in the kitchen in her pink and blue plaid robe over her flannel pjs. She’s working over a skillet on the stove or a stainless steel pot or that scary pressure cooker.


My mother didn’t die a few weeks, months, or years ago. It has been a few decades and still the wound seems to gape open on holidays and especially on Mother’s Day. I awake to it taunting me. I see others celebrating their mothers and I’m jealous. I hear others complaining about their mothers and I want to whack them on the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper and say, “Be thankful! Stop your whining! Celebrate your Mother while you still have her!” That wouldn’t make my pain any less potent. It wouldn’t make my mama come back, so I don’t.


Grieving the loss of a Mother is like having a learning disability. I am learning to live without a Mom and every once and awhile I have a slew of great days and I think, “I’m recovering!  I’ve got this grieving thing down!” I’ve run through the stages of grief like running a gauntlet. I am whipped, bruised, scarred, but I have made it through again and again. I’m learning.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

“It’s frustrating to be in the midst of learning. It is like sitting in algebra class, listening to a teacher explain a subject beyond our comprehension. We do not understand, but the teacher takes the understanding for granted.

It may feel like someone is torturing us with messages that we shall never understand. We strain and strain. We become angry. Frustrated. Confused. Finally, in despair, we turn away, deciding that formula will never be available to our mind.”- Melody Beattie


Sometimes I feel as if I will never be finished grieving the loss of my mama. It won’t work for me. I will keep cycling through, keep picking up the phone to call her, keep dreaming about her  I have good days and then I get catapulted back to the beginning of the process. Scars open to expose old wounds, festering, seething with loss.

And then I think of my adopted children. They had a mother before me. They had a loss different, yet similar to my own. They had an Eden. A beginning with someone who birthed them. She didn’t die and leave them like my mama did. She abandoned them. Rejected them. I hear adoptive parents try to sugar coat this and say things like: She couldn’t take care of you. She was too young. Addicted. Whatever.

I know I am guilty of this. The truth is you can’t fool a child. The grief and loss are as real for them as it is for us. And at this time of the year, when mothers are being celebrated, they may be confused, especially if they were older when they were adopted. They may be wrestling with grief and it often masquerades as anger. The children may not want to buy new mom a card or celebrate. They may be missing something that never was. They may have a picture in their mind of a perfect mother from their past. It is an illusion. We didn’t adopt these kids in a perfect scenario. We adopted them in the midst of trauma. They will run the gauntlet of grief just as we do. The wounds will re-open, fresh or old, and be festering, infectious.

After Mom’s death, I began life as a new kind of orphan. A motherless adult. At first, I had a strange sense of surreal detachment, watching my life play out, walking through the normal activities of the day. I also felt a profound sense of peace- a peace that surpassed all understanding. Then, I moved into a period of anger. I couldn’t fathom while people still grocery shopped, went to work, bought new clothes. My mommy had died!

Gradually, my outlook changed. The pain of the loss remained, but God changed my perspective. There is a point when death makes way for new life. It is when we accept the death of a loved one that the platform of love and remembrance can be constructed. The legacy of that beloved person births a new life: A ministry, and organization to help others, a continuation of the work, an act of compassion and empathy.

“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming Joy.”- Timothy Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering

My adopted kids had a magic carpet ripped out from under them, too. Their beginnings may have not been ideal, but it was their beginning. Their mother, their grandfather. The abnormal life of neglect was normal to them because it was the only life they ever knew. When that was taken from them, it was death. I understood death. All those years ago, in a courtroom, they stood a the threshold of a new life.

New life is birthed out of death. A seed must die before it bursts forth with new life. Life begins in a dark place. Deep within the soil. So, if you or your child are grieving right now, don’t despair. Grieve, but don’t despair. There is a coming JOY. There are moments of if. Remembering the good times. Enjoying the good days. Accepting a homemade card from a child who is beginning to warm up to the idea of a new mom. Looking through old photos of your mama with flour on her apron and fresh-baked cookies on the counters. Be patient with yourself and your child. Allow yourself time to grieve. Allow your child to grieve. Grief is a job that must be done!


“We are promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination.”-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Oberved

Mother’s Day-A Perspective of Two Adoptive Mothers

(Kathleen Guire with Susie Telesha)
Mother’s Day is such an oxymoron, a cruel kindness for mothers. It is a day that they are to be celebrated, but it has sometimes become a burden.
Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to honor her beloved Mother, but spent the rest of her life fighting the holiday’s political and commercial exploitation. 
Mothers everywhere are put on a pedestal this day. In church services sermons are preached about the wonders of Mothers from their strong hands to their ability to raise up a generation of Christians.
Why is Mother’s Day sometimes a burden? 
Mother’s day means flowers and dinner for some, chocolate and cards for others. Family gatherings. Praise. Presents.
For others it offers deep sadness, a void- detachment. To the mother who has suffered a miscarriage or the woman who is unable to conceive- there are aching arms longing to hold her  child. To a mother whose child died tragically, grief nearly sucks the life out of her, crippling her in sorrow. To some who have lost a mother, it means sweet memories.  To a child adopted an older age, it  can mean memories of a past with birth momma to compete with new Momma. Conflicting feelings arise.
It is sometimes difficult to be an adoptive Momma on Mother’s day. Children who are not securely attached find it difficult to shower mom with gifts or bring her breakfast in bed.  It may take years of coaching for these kids to catch on to the idea of card buying or just saying the phrase, “Happy Mother’s Day!”  
Sweet Victory.
What do adoptive moms need to celebrate a successful mother’s day?  A change in perspective. It’s not about the gifts, the flowers, the accolades, the coffee, the books or whatever your bent desires.  It’s about one word.

Rejoice in the word.  Remember the sweet victory you felt the first time your child said it, regardless of his age.  Remember that joyous night they first slept in a bed in your home and you checked on them twenty-five times?  You just couldn’t believe they were finally home.  
Remember the season the nightmares wouldn’t stop and he let you comfort him.  
Remember that time she asked why her birth mother didn’t keep her?
You comforted her.  Held her.  Told her God had formed her in her birth mother’s womb. 
He has a purpose for you and He will fulfill it.
It’s not about you being perfect.  It’s about you being THERE.
You are THERE. 
So, when you see the other Mothers getting celebrated exponentially outwardly, remember inwardly that three letter word that you are every day.
You are home.  
Happy Mother’s Day!
There is no place like home.

 It is where children call me “Mamusa, Momma, Mother, Mom,” or any name that signifies the safety and security of family.
 It is the Mother’s day celebration when my children call me Mom.

Mother’s Day

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It’s Mother’s Day and I am waiting for my kids to fix me dinner. Gregory is going to fire up the grill and fix some awesome burgers. Ania loaded up the rice steamer at my request. I heard fiesta ware clinking, so I think the prep is going well.
I am sitting in my room doing a few of my favorite things: reading and writing. I finished the last chapter of a book I had been reading. Now I am blogging away about Mother’s Day. My kids asked me what I wanted for dinner and took over. This is a first for me. Usually, it’s my job to decide how to celebrate this day, make the plans, the food and generally keep the ball moving like I do everyday.
Mother’s Day is such an oxymoron, a cruel kindness for young mothers. It is a day that they are to be celebrated, but it has sometimes become a burden.
Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to honor her beloved Mother, but spent the rest of her life fighting the holiday’s political and commercial exploitation. I don’t know the whole story, but I do know that Anna Jarvis died in an asylum, alone.
Mothers everywhere are put on a pedestal this day. In church services sermons are preached about the wonders of Mothers from their strong hands to their ability to raise up a generation of Christians.
Why is Mother’s Day sometimes a burden? Well, I’m just not that PERFECT! I am trying my best, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, could you take me out of the pressure cooker for one day? Sorry Pastor, but I just come of these services feeling like I’m carrying an extra burden, not being celebrated.
Most of the time, it’s up to me to plan my Mother’s Day while my husband works. I need to appear refreshed, happy that I have seven kids and have a wonderful day to boot. Sometimes, I’m just not that good.
Last year for Mother’s Day, I decided to go hiking. I had told the kids that some of my favorite things to do were: read, hike, eat chocolate and drink coffee while writing. Since most of these things they didn’t want to do with me, I opted for a hike. Their was dissension in the ranks. Some kids came along grumbling and complaining while others hissed under their breath, “shush, this is what MOM wants to do.” Mom FAIL. I guess I am not SO great at making my children happy.
Whew! I’m so glad that’s not really my job! My job is raise my children in the training and admonition of the Lord whether they like it or not, so I will keep doing what I am supposed to be doing. Downstairs, the true fruit of my labor, the true gift of Mother’s Day is hard at work. My children for years have watched me serve and they are now doing what they have seen me do. It’s not about them praising me or the gifts of coffee and dark chocolate even though I appreciate them. It’s about doing for others what I have done for them. That’s where the pressure comes in. Have I done what I have supposed to do? That’s what I ask myself every year? Do I deserve a Mother’s Day or do I need to shape up?
On the way home from church today, I was trying to decide what to do today with Jerry and two older daughters away, it was all up to me to plan the perfect day. Hunter interrupted my thoughts with, “Mom, what would you like us to make for your Mother’s Day dinner?”
“Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city]. Proverbs 31: 31
Gotta go! Dinner is ready!