Being a Mom
Poppy found these quotes about being a mother, a parent, and she sent them around to some of us for Mother's Day this year. I think what struck me most was that these are quotes that were most likely written or said in reference to being a parent to a living child. But, being that my son is dead, I of course read these with the eyes of a mother whose child is physically gone. And yet, each quote here still applies. Poppy understood that. So did all the parents to whom she sent these. But I'm sure you've all encountered many people who don't get it.
So I wanted to write a little about being a mom, a bereaved mom. Wanted to look at these quotes one by one and say a bit about what they mean to the bereaved parent. Maybe this will be something you can share with those who don't get it. Maybe it will just be an "a-ha" moment for you yourself. Maybe it's just one bereaved mother, writing to survive yet another Mother's Day without her kid. Here's goes:
the decision to have
a child - it's momentous.
What surprises me most is that people don't understand that the momentous decision to have a child affects us regardless of whether our children outlive us or not. The moment I decided to keep my pregnancy, to carry to term, to give birth -- that was the moment that I began walking around with my heart outside my body. And when they pulled my dead baby from my womb, it was still just as momentous a decision to have this baby as it would have been if he would have been alive. And yet, somehow, in this world, my decision to be a parent, to have a child, is completely discounted or ignored because my child's birth ended in death. As if my decision stopped there. As if my parenthood stopped there.
Hello?!? As much as a parent with a living child walks around with their heart outside their body -- well, a bereaved parent is just as vulnerable. We are walking around with, not only our heart out there, but a broken heart at that. And the huge, momentous decision to have a child -- is still just that. It is still a decision that changed our lives forever. It is still a decision that made each of us a parent to someone. Momentous. Yes. Indeed.
"A Mother holds her
children's hands for
Some of us hold their hands for a very, very short time. We spend a lifetime after their burials or cremations holding their hearts in ours. And sadly, without the physical presence of our children, many of us have our parenthood ignored daily. The world sees our living children only. The dead ones don't count. The world often seems very uninterested in our hearts, seems to not care how many hearts we hold within. But other bereaved parents get it. Our children are our children forever.
"When you are a mother,
you are never really
alone in your thoughts.
Isn't that the truth? You might scoff at the idea of a bereaved parent thinking twice. You might ask why they would even have to consider someone who is dead. You might think they should just get over it already. Well, I have news for you. The bereaved parent thinks twice about talking to clueless people. They guard their heart and the memory and legacy of their children. And they think twice about whether or not to share those things with clueless people who don't get it.
More than that, many parents find that their normal day to day lives, their everyday work is totally meaningless after a child's death. They find renewed life and meaning by creating a legacy for their kids. They may start a non-profit. They may write. They might make art or do outreach to other families. And in any of the things that have "meaning" after a child's death, believe me, the parents are thinking of the legacy they are creating. They are making their parenthood tangible. Giving the world a way to acknowledge the power of a child's life and death.
Indeed, we are never alone after becoming a bereaved parent. Our dead child is constantly in heart and mind. It is a parenthood that does not end. Just as being a parent to a living child does not end. It morphs and changes over time with age and growth. But it does not end. Same for bereaved parents.
"One generation plants
We plant the seeds today of how our children are important, they matter, in life and in death. And that opens dialogue, creates outlets for all kinds of parenthood, gives shade, outreach, education to the next generation. Bereaved parents who are open about their grief, their parenthood, their dead children -- these are the people who are smashing the taboo, bringing the secrets out of the closet, refusing to shame surviving or subsequent siblings who are aware of the missing child. We plant the trees now, and our surviving children will grow up to be healthier and more well-adjusted parents to their own kids.
Well, that's just a few of my initial reactions and thoughts about these quotes. Some of you might wonder if it's appropriate to include parents during Mother's Day and Father's Day after their child has died. I say, they are still parents. Why is there even a question about including them.
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