By Pam Katchuk
I am a mother grieving a lost child. What’s the hardest day of the year for a grieving mother? Their birthday? No. Their angel day? No. It’s Mother’s Day. Every day is sorrowful, but this special day when moms all around the world are celebrating their special day is especially difficult for us. We are painfully aware that our child is no longer with us while other mothers all around us are being remembered and honored. And mothers like myself who lost their only child ask themselves if they are even considered mothers anymore. When people ask us how many children we have, we struggle…do we include our lost child and risk making the asker uncomfortable? I, for one, will always say I have one child and he lives in heaven. I live with discomfort every day, and I want people to know that my son did exist.
You may wonder what you can do to help your friends who have lost a child on this Mother’s Day. First and foremost, remind them that they are still a mother and always will be. Say their child’s name. There is no sweeter sound on earth than that of our child’s name. If you are worried that saying our child’s name will make us sad or remind us our child is gone, don’t worry. We don’t forget for one minute that they are gone. Their name is music to our ears.
Let us talk about our children with you. It’s true we don’t have any new stories to share, but we love to share precious memories of them, just as much as you love sharing stories about your children. Please don’t avoid us. You may not know what to say. That’s OK! You don’t have to say anything…a hug or a card can speak more than a thousand words. But if you do feel comfortable saying something, please do! When my son first died, I felt like I had a disease because some people avoided me. I know they just didn’t know what to say and I didn’t blame them, but it hurt nonetheless.
Don’t tell us to move on and get over it. That will never happen. We carry that load of bricks on our backs for the rest of our lives, but we do learn to adapt in our own time. Understand that the pain never really goes away. Healing cannot be rushed. Some adjust more quickly than others. Hopefully we learn to use the pain to help others. Service is very healing. I personally strive to make my son’s legacy that of helping others through me and through his story. This also helps keep his memory alive.
The best thing you can do is REMEMBER our children. Share happy memories you have about our child. Wish us a happy Mother’s Day. It will mean the world. Send a card, send a note, send flowers, give us a call. Do anything but nothing. Our greatest fear in life is that our child will be forgotten. Some days I get so afraid because I’ve forgotten things about my son. But he did exist. They all existed and we will love them forever. Help us keep those precious memories alive.
I’d like to share a quote from Erma Bombeck: “Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation and respect. On Mother’s Day, I can think of no mother more deserving than a mother that had to give one back.”
I love you my angel ~ Andy ~, and I always will. Your Mom… then, now, and forever.