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Mother’s Day – Savoring the Bitter and the Sweet

Mother’s Day – Savoring the Bitter and the Sweet

My mother and me in Alaska

Mother’s Day has never felt the same after my mother died. Although I am a mother who is lavished with love on this special day, the truth is, Mother’s Day is as much for children as it is for mothers. And ever since my mother’s death, Mother’s Day has been bittersweet.

As a hospice volunteer, I’ve been learning a lot about grief. I learned that grief over the loss of our mothers is nearly universally harder than most other deaths. Yes, loss of a child can be nearly unbearable. Losing our partners and best friends is horrifically hard. But when we are without our mothers, we are untethered from the most primary relationship that all of us have.

Grief strikes with all kinds of loss and not just that caused by death. Loss may be a constant companion for those who are adopted. We can also be disconnected from our mothers because of other reasons, such as drugs, alcohol, dementia, or conflict. Loss is loss, and loss leads to grief.

Grief is hard to bear. There is no one way to grieve. My mother has been gone for 8 years, and although I don’t feel the sting of fresh grief, I miss her. I especially notice her absence on Mother’s Day, which is painfully close to the anniversary of her death.

For a long time, I just sucked up my grief, as if it was a headache I must endure. I don’t do this anymore. I name it, and savor it. For isn’t grief just another way of loving? Without love, there would be no loss, no tears, and no grief.

So dear grief, I welcome you, your bittersweet presence, reminding me of what I lost and what I still have: love. And I have the lovely fact that I am a mother, still able to spend this day in gratitude for my daughter and stepsons.

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