My mother missed her children's weddings. Missed the birth of her grandchild. In that grand balance up in the sky, measuring who gave and who took, my mother's ledger is a study of injustice. I doubt there has ever been an adult soul who took less, whose footprint was lighter. She never harmed or blasphemed or burdened; she was not perfect, but her faults were small and were her own, never imposing them on others. She deserved more. A lot more.
Since my mom died almost 10 years ago, I've struggled with Mother's Day. It doesn't help that I am also childless and single. Mother's Day is typically a mix of happy memories and sad introspection for me. I'm not the only one who finds Mother's Day complicated. When I recently polled my friends, I found a wellspring of Mother's Day heartache, and stories and tangents I had not considered.
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.
While the majority of people haven't found the courage yet to talk with expectant parents about the risk of losing a child, how to survive such tragedies and continue to live, we need to be even more diligent in ensuring that we have experienced specialists in place that are available every time parents are facing the tragedy of losing their baby.
As there will be some special days that make it painful, you can plan ahead. If you have recently lost your father, than make sure you're with supportive individuals on his birthday, or on Father's Day. You will want to surround yourself with people who respect your grieving process. Make sure you accept the love and support of your friends and family members.
Find ways to honour those you miss. Look at old photos and tell stories of any loved ones you have lost. Honour the expectations that you may have had for relationships, life and even your vision of the season, as they are a part of our story. Let a lost loved one remain alive in you, and be an active part of your experience.
In August 2010, I was attending week three of a youth conference and found myself deep in meditation, sobbing as if I had just emerged from the womb. Here I was, in the middle of Berlin deep in meditation, with the photo of an older Indian man with long hair and in white robes at the front of the room, feeling at my very core that my life was about to change dramatically.
We can go days without talking, but I still know their love is there. Most of the time it's comforting, like a hug or a warm sweater. But sometimes it's heavy, almost suffocating, as if their happiness depends entirely on my actions, my life. I don't blame them because I know this intensity only stems from their greatest fear: losing me or my brothers.
He had suffered from a period of depression which had developed into a psychosis. When the news reached me, my world collapsed. The days that followed were spent in a state alternating between something dream-like and an acute, painful awareness of the reality of the situation. So many questions were asked. So few answered.
The underlying sentiment is that our dog is going to die anyway so why not relieve ourselves of the discomfort and inconvenience. I have worked with animals and people for decades -- it is both my passion and my career -- so I was caught off-guard when I felt that subtle pressure from mainstream society to put my dog down and move on with life.
Canadians are also helping ensure children and their families don't go hungry, thirsty or sleep out in the open. A child's healing and well-being is about more than just a safe place to play during the day. We know the importance of a warm, dry place to sleep, and a pot of nourishing food bubbling on the stove or fire at day's end.
I like to tell this story because I feel that our job as yoga instructors is to do what artists, poets, and priests do; to remind us of the great truth that to cling only to sweet as our only form of happiness is a trap. Sorrow teaches us about love and even bliss... if we let it. Ultimately, we can't share the light if we aren't cracked open.
I am moving through what I think of as the year of the terrible firsts. The first wedding anniversary without him; the first holidays; the first family celebration; birthdays, his, mine, our children's. And I move, inexorably, to the marking of the first anniversary of his death. In many ways, these months have been filled with surprises.