Monday Notes: A Post-Mother’s Day Message for the Motherless

Dear Motherless Child, 

I see you.

If you’ve just lost your mother, then a holiday, like Mother’s Day may seem strange. You’ll want to acknowledge that you, too, had a mother, good, bad, or otherwise. A woman birthed or adopted you and provided you with unconditional love. But now you’re in a different club. You may walk by aisles of Mother’s Day cards, their pinks and reds taunting you. You may feel inclined to buy one, forgetting you have no one for whom this would be appropriate. Or you may feel as if someone should buy you a card as recognition for your loss. Wouldn’t it be nice if Hallmark made a greeting card that began—I know it’s Mother’s Day, and you just lost yours…? But they don’t. The most you may have is Mother’s Day at church where you’re encouraged to partake in a new tradition, wearing a white carnation, symbolizing your mother’s death

Women who possess a nurturing gene may try to mother you. Their gestures will stem from kindness. Their heartstrings will lengthen and tug and wrap tightly around you, until you can’t breathe. But they will fail, because they are not your mother. As Mouse, a seven-year-old fictional character from the book Looking for Hope says, “there’s nothing like your own mother.” She’s right. Only the woman assigned to you knew the lilt in your voice when you were angry or excited. Only your mother knew when you needed a hug or extra encouragement. It is normal to have mixed feelings about others’ good intentions. Feeling grateful for other women who’ve served as proxy is understandable; wishing you had your own mother is also valid. The latter doesn’t make you ungrateful; it makes you sad and grieving. And that’s okay.

If it’s been a few years since your mother died, then the compassion some showed may have worn off. Friends and family may even suggest that you should “get over it,” as if losing one’s mother is akin to a bad breakup. However, even bad breakups can be hard to “get over.” Sometimes, bad breakups last years in the cells of your body and crevices of your brain. Shouldn’t losing one’s mother take a bit of time? Still, you’ll learn to have compassion for these people. They don’t get it. They don’t understand. Though we may suspect, not one of us knows how we will feel when our mother dies. Even if it’s an expected event, prompted by a terminal illness, or even if you hated her for trivial or grandiose reasons, no one understands the bundle of emotions that may bubble to the surface, threatening to erupt, until it happens. So, offer a smidge of grace for those who think you should “get over” your mother’s death. They simply don’t know.

Losing one’s mother, no matter your age, is not easy. But here’s what I hope for you. I hope these words are comforting. I hope you’ve found a space where other motherless children convene. I hope peace fills the void. 

Love,

a motherless child

RESOURCES

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41 thoughts on “Monday Notes: A Post-Mother’s Day Message for the Motherless

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts!!.. Mom always leaves a lasting impression on us and occupies a special part of our hearts and with us always so we are never “completely” motherless… 🙂

    A Letter From Heaven

    When tomorrow starts without me
    And I’m not here to see,
    If the sun should rise and find your eyes
    Filled with tears for me.

    I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
    The way you did today,
    While thinking of the many things
    We didn’t get to say.

    I know how much you love me
    As much as I love you,
    And each time you think of me
    I know you’ll miss me too.

    When tomorrow starts without me
    Don’t think we’re far apart,
    For every time you think of me
    I’m right there in your heart.
    (Alena Hakala Meadows)

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a heartfelt write, Kathy. Your opening sentence, “If you’ve just lost your mother…” made my heart ache a bit as I think of my best friend’s son, and his first motherless Mother’s Day. And you’ve summed it all up so well, losing one’s mother is hard, no matter your age. May all motherless children find a space to convene! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Our culture has heavy commercial influence, coupled with social media portraying only fantastical picture of human relations and situation – this keeps a lot of humanly experiences unacknowledged. You are very welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. 🙏🏾💙 You are just . . . I bet this was so comforting for a lot of your readers, because I felt every moment of it totally. Peace, Kathy. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is beautiful, Kathy. Mother’s Day can be so difficult and painful due to the death of a mother, the absence/estrangement of a living mother, or the death of a mother’s child. Hugs and love to you ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve been through 23 Mother’s Days without my mom. Yes, it’s a bittersweet day to remember all the wonderful things about my mother who I loved deeply and never lived more than 5 miles away from, never went a day without talking at least once on the phone. Is it hard? Not so much on Mother’s Day but on the life milestones like weddings of her grandchildren, my first grandchild, my book coming out into the world …
    But all of that pales in comparison to a few friends who have lost a child, including one earlier this year to Covid. It’s not the natural order and those are the women I held in my heart yesterday.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for adding this, Laura! I have a whole nother something regarding what you’ve written here. It’s about how my grandmother told me that sixteen years was a long time to have a mother (so I shouldn’t be sad about her death). What you’ve written here about all those missed moments is exactly how I found out sixteen years isn’t a long time to have a mother.

      I understand what you mean about other people’s loss, but I also try hard not to compare. We each are missing something, and it’s important to hold space, no matter what ❤

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  6. Beautifully written, Katherin. I’m going to share your post with a woman I know that lost her mother last year and has been suffering with terrible grief. She will especially appreciate your words.
    I’m sorry for the terrible loss you endured with losing a mother that wasn’t there for you. I can’t even find the words to describe your horrible experience.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re welcome ❤ Sending you lots of light, Krissy. I've learned that we have to look out for each other, and sometimes the "we" shifts depending on the circumstances 😉

      Like

  7. Thank you, KE. My mother and mother-in-law are still alive and I’m trying to make up for lost time now that we live closer. My problem with Mother’s Day is that I’m not a mother (other than to pets) but it is assumed I must be because I am a female of a certain age. Right-to-Lifers set up a table at the entrance to the church and hand out flowers to women and wish them a happy mother’s day. When I politely refuse it because I’m not a mother, they tell me to keep it, as I will be someday. No, I won’t. I’m 53 and menopausal. But I don’t want to have to say that, so I take it and keep quiet. Just like all the other women who have decided, for their own reasons, not to have children.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Assumptions cause people to act in strange ways.
        Hugs to you and all those without a mom on Mother’s Day, especially those living through it for the first time. The death of a parent leaves a hole nothing else can fill, even if your relationship wasn’t particularly sweet or close.

        Liked by 1 person

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