Grief is like the ocean. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. -Vicki Harrison
It might seem on the outside to be an innocent holiday that features smiling, off-duty moms, breakfast in bed and handmade cards of love.
I have quite a few adorable crayon-colored Mother's Day cards in a photo box and they are treasures to my heart.
But there are other secret treasures buried among them.
These are the cards that my husband left on the kitchen table in the early morning light that never failed to mention how he appreciated me as the mother of both of our girls.
One here, one above.
After the loss of our second daughter, Mother's Day became a complicated, tender and sometimes weighty holiday, with landmines to dodge, social media to avoid and tears to release.
And there are as many stories about grief as there are moms who have lost children.
In my orb alone, I know of moms (and dads, we love you, too), who have lost children to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, cancer, drugs, alcohol, suicide and gun violence.
If it hasn't happened to you or someone close, it's hard to imagine, isn't it?
But let's stay with this for a moment.
On the other side of life, we all have friends who have lost their moms, and the Mother's Day holiday can leave them feeling invisible and out of place, carrying a mom-shaped hole in their hearts that never leaves.
And what of those who carry regrets about their relationships, or lack thereof, with their moms? Or those who had moms who, for whatever reason, were unable to be present in the loving mom sort of ways?
THE COMPASSION WITHIN
When we reach deep into our hearts where the compassion lives, we recognize that this upcoming holiday can be pretty rough for about half of us.
I'm guessing on that number, but you see what I mean. This is a lot. For a lot of us.
So instead of ignoring what can be a pretty isolating time for some - during what has been a pretty isolating year for all - perhaps we can do something kind.
Yes. Something small, simple and kind.
For a friend who is grieving. Or for yourself in your time of grief.
Kindness is a balm. A soft blanket. A gentle hug.
Perhaps we can expand our understanding of grief and take a few small actions of loving kindness toward ourselves and others that remind us that we belong to each other.
And we are not alone.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. -Helen Keller
SMALL KINDNESS IS BIG COMFORT
If you have a friend who has lost a child or their mom, reach out in some small way to recognize this holy moment in time.
You can send a text, an email, or a pretty card they can leave out as a comforting reminder of your love; one that may become a beloved treasure in a photo box one day.
If the loss is a miscarriage or infant loss, let them know they are seen, that they are a beautiful mother.
For any kind of loss, child or mom, tell them you know this day is hard for them, that you love them, and you are thinking of them.
That's all. Short and sweet.
I remember a time early in grief when a friend sent me a box of chocolates. I think I had my first post-loss smile over that. It just felt lovely.
Sending flowers is a beautiful way to say: I love you. I see you. I'm thinking of you.
If you, my dear, are the bereaved, sometimes for holidays it helps to plan ahead.