As tomorrow looms, I can’t help but think of all of the bereaved moms I now know.  I was thinking back to my first Mother’s Day without Joseph in 2010.  All I did was cry.  Not “cry” as in, “I was in bed in the fetal position crying."   No.  I went through my day, talked, walked, cooked, took care of my surviving child who was one year old, etc. and cried through every bit of it.  A friend of mine stopped over with flowers and I just thanked and hugged her, all while crying.  I will never forget it and, if I were to guess, my friend probably won’t either.  It was awkward, sad and unavoidable.

Truth be told, I am not much of a “crier.”  I would categorize myself before Joseph died as a female of average outward emotional display but, ever since he died, I have developed tear ducts of steel with (I approximate) at least 10 secret trap doors layered on top of one another to block any tear that begins to make its way to the surface.  

So for me to cry nonstop, all day, on that first Mother’s Day was unusual, hard and confusing for me...but there was nothing I could do to stop the tears from flowing. And after a few hours, I didn’t even try anymore.

Today, the rain pours down outside; steady and relentless. There is no sign of it letting up.  It reminds me of myself on that first Mother's Day.  I can't help but feel like Mother Nature is mourning for all of us bereaved moms with holes in our hearts who have to endure tomorrow and will endure many more.  "Thank you, Hallmark" for taking 24 hours to highlight our complicated and ever-present challenge of defining our roles as “mothers” when one of our children has died way too soon.  In my view, bereaved mothers are mothers to their children who are here as well as their children who are not and, although modern medicine has made this group of us a minority, the fact remains that celebrating Mother’s Day with your children when one of them has died is complex.  For those of us who split our motherhood between two worlds, let us be clear that we will always be grateful for our surviving children who continue to make us “mothers” from Hallmark’s perspective but they will never make us feel whole or complete in our motherhood and it would be an unfair and impossible task to ask them to do so.  Think apples and oranges.

The complicated role of defining our motherhood is something that bereaved mothers face everyday but on Mother's Day it feels a bit more center-stage.

To all of the mothers out there who fear tomorrow and the emotions it will invoke, you are not alone.   To all of the mother’s who will put all of their energy into celebrating tomorrow for the sake of their surviving kids but wish they could crawl into a hole, you are not alone.    To all of the mother’s who ache knowing that tomorrow is another day, and there will be so many more, without the child you love, you are not alone.   To all of the mothers who walk by that card display and fantasize about the day when Hallmark goes under, you are not alone.

A child who is lost can never be replaced, duplicated or compensated for by anyone or anything that remains here and that is the essence of the heartache of a bereaved mother.  You are not alone.