When Holidays Hurt: Mother’s Day

Casey OrrI used to have no problem with Mother’s Day. It was a day on which my family was sure to go to church, have a nice lunch, write a loving card to Mom, and do chores with more haste than usual. I heard all of the complaints about the greeting card companies and florists being the primary profiters (and even inventors?) of this holiday for Moms. But that griping simply didn’t get to me.

It wasn’t until my mid-20s that Mother’s Day began to fill me with grief. There were two triggers:

1.  I was single and didn’t want to be. I wanted to have a partner to do life with. And the deep longing beneath that one was to be a mom.

2.  My friends were starting to have kids — which meant that people in my orbit also began to face dark days: infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth.

On Mother’s Day each year, I would sit in worship and look around at all the happy families. I would enviously grieve my own circumstances while empathetically grieving the plight of my peers. On Mother’s Day, my own longing became completely tangled up in the suffering of friends. And that is when I realized a seemingly benign holiday could hurt.

Most people probably see Mother’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the presence of a great mom in their life (whether it’s their own mom, the woman who is mom to their kids, the grandmother, or the mom-like figure). And that part of it is lovely and charming and a great reminder. But for some, it is a day that draws unwanted and gut-wrenching attention to an absence.

On Mother’s Day, single women hurt. Not all single women, of course. But those single women who might long (like I did) to be a wife and a mother and simply do not know if they will ever have the chance. They are filled with doubt and desire.

On Mother’s Day, women suffering infertility hurt. These brave women are enduring routines and regimens and appointments and timing and waiting and disappointment. They are filled with frustration and anxiety.

On Mother’s Day, women who have had miscarriages hurt. These women have had dreams shattered when the baby they have known to be real inside of them was lost too soon. They are filled with grief and confusion.

On Mother’s Day, women who have endured a stillbirth hurt. These women have nurtured a baby and have been completely ready to welcome the child they know into their world, only to be met with silence. They are filled with despair and brokenness.

On Mother’s Day, women who have lost a child too soon hurt. These women have raised and loved and delighted in their child, yet illness or accident has taken that child from them. They are filled with heartache and longing.

These descriptions of pain on Mother’s Day are, of course, limited. They are not intended to represent fullness of the pain of every person. They are not intended to tell someone’s story for them or put words in anyone’s mouth. They are intended only as a reminder that holidays can hurt. The bright flowers, the “Mother’s Day discounts,” the wall of pink cards at every store, and the happy social media posts are nice for many, but deepen the emptiness and pain of others.

So in advance of this Mother’s Day, I want to say to those who are hurting that the church loves you and is ready to stand in this place with you — mothers and fathers of children lost and longed for.

We want to invite you to a service on Thursday, May 11, called Prayers for Children Lost and Longed For. And we encourage you to invite those you might know who could use a space to bring whatever they are carrying. It will be a time for reflection, prayer, and rest in the presence of God — time to remember, to grieve, to hope, and to pray.

Please reach out if you have any questions or would like more information: corr@myfumc.org | 817-339-5067.

Casey

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