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This Mother's Day, I'm Acknowledging the Painful Side of Motherhood. Loss

05/08/2015 11:51 EDT | Updated 05/08/2016 05:59 EDT
SarahJane Photography

Over the past few weeks we have been inundated with articles, commercials, advertisements and the like presenting us with "The Top 10 Gifts for Mom" and urging Dads to "Make This Mother's Day Special" (read: don't screw this up!). I love having the opportunity to celebrate my mother and, in the last six years, the joy of being pampered by my husband and daughters but there is always a sad note amongst it all.

While Mother's Day is a celebration of love for many, it is a day of pain and grief for so many more. There are many faces of motherhood, some less obvious then others. There are mothers whose arms are empty; suffering from infertility, miscarriages or the death of a child. The world doesn't recognize them as mothers but they are and always will be. There are mothers whose families are bigger than the number of place settings on the table would suggest, having the bittersweet situation of having both earth and angel babies. I am one of the fortunate ones, never having experienced this first hand, but I have witnessed the suffering of too many close family and friends, and wanted to recognize and honour them this Mother's Day, and hopefully encourage others to do the same by raising awareness with these words.

I count myself among the ignorant, the awkward, who didn't know what to say or how to react so instead was silent and did nothing. I am so sorry to the people I hurt and the feelings I discounted through my lack of maturity and courage. Truthfully, I felt guilty. Guilty that it was easy for me to conceive. Guilty that I was able to carry both of my pregnancies to term. Guilty that, despite some big scares and close calls, I still have 2 healthy girls in my arms. I don't want to be that person anymore. I don't want to use guilt as an excuse so I reached out to people to educate me and the rest of the world on what to say and do for those around us who are hurting in this most painful of ways. Here are just a few of the responses:

"The only thing that makes us happy is the acknowledgement that our child existed... and still exists! That our child is remembered. Speak their name. Tell us how beautiful they were. Saying their name brings joy to our broken hearts! And there is no greater satisfaction then keeping their memory alive even after they are physically gone. Let's remember them, each and every one of them. Forever."

.....[as if our situation wasn't bad enough] we now have to put up with society's way of "handling" our situation according to their comfort level. Due to their lack of knowledge on such a "taboo" subject, we, as grieving mothers, must endure some hard, ignorant comments. "You can have more," "it was meant to be," "he's in a better place"... NO! What is a better place for a baby than a mother's arms?! I feel that after these comments and living in such a clueless society, we deserve this one day. This day, Mother's Day, where we should all be acknowledged; even if some don't have a child to show for it." ~ Milena Iribarren

"Remember that a grieving mom is still a mom. You may not have held that child in your womb, but she did. You may not have had dreams and aspirations for that child, but she did. Be gentle, be courteous, be kind. A simple phone call or message to say that you are thinking of them would mean a lot. If a grieving mom goes on to have a rainbow baby {a baby born after the death of a child; the rainbow after the storm}, take the time to remember the lost child for subsequent mothers days too - grieving does not end when a new child arrives and new babies do not replace angel babies." ~ Suzanne

So amidst your celebrations this Mother's Day (and everyday), reach out to someone and say "I'm thinking of you. While I can never understand or take away your grief, your suffering, I am here. Tell me about your pain. I want to share it with you. Tell me how I can honour and recognize you today. I'm sorry I am awkward and don't know what to say or how to say it, but I want to be there for you." Realize that while some may not want to share, there will still be appreciation for the gesture you made, and doing something is always better then doing nothing.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, no matter what form you take. You are a mother in our eyes.

This post originally appeared on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play and is dedicated to my two unbelievably strong sister-in-laws, and to Perrin Danner & Matteson Grey, the two most beautiful babies I never met.

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