This guest post is by Kerstin Lindquist at KerstinLindquistQVC.
I vividly remember walking into church on Mother’s Day Sunday 2007 and watching the ushers hand out flowers to all the moms. I had lost my baby three months earlier and watching this simple, joyful exchange of single yellow carnations felt like a blow to the stomach.
I got dizzy, the air got very thin, and all I wanted to do was sit down and stop breathing. I cried silently through the entire service, leaving twice to gather myself in the bathroom.
In 2008, I just avoided church on Mother’s Day. I couldn’t handle the flowers. Just the sight of those women holding the fresh-cut stems was too much.
It was something else I didn’t have. They got babies and flowers? In 2009, I was three months pregnant and weeks away from meeting my soon-to-be adopted daughter, Grace. But, I still couldn’t bring myself to go back to church.
Awaiting the arrival of two babies
I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of two babies, but neither one was close enough for me to really be certain that I was going to be a mother. The birthmother could still change her mind and keep Grace. The baby I was carrying could still be lost like the last one.
My church was usually one of my happiest places. I felt such happiness and acceptance and joy in that huge building. I had cried my eyes out during my darkest days and I had prayed with people who would become lifelong friends.
I wasn’t mad at the ministry that decided to hand out flowers, or at my pastor for agreeing, or at God for not making me a mother after trying for so long. But I just couldn’t handle one more reminder that everything I ever wanted was within a whisper’s reach, but not quite in my hand.
During those three years, I remember people wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day anyway since they were sure I would be a mommy soon. They meant well, but it was just as bad as being told to “relax” and I would get pregnant. No one could be certain that I would ever be a mother. I knew people who never had kids.
I saw an elderly woman on the news who never married or had a baby. That was not why she was on the news, but it’s what I latched on to. I held on to those images and scenes of barren women and presented them like a research paper to people who would tell me “it will happen.”
Allow a woman to grieve
They did not know it would happen. It was comments like those which started me blogging in the first place: I wanted my friends and family to know what to say around me, and more importantly, what not to say.
There are millions of women like me and you who will be grieving this Mother’s Day and every day after. Whether they can’t have children, have lost a child, or are far from their kids.
Be sensitive to these women and let them grieve if they need to. The people in my life who let me cry it out after the cameras stopped rolling at work were invaluable to me during those hard Mother’s Days.
Just days ago someone expressed to me that they didn’t call their cousin who had lost a baby on Mothers Day because they didn’t know what to say. I asked what their fear was. Was it that her cousin would cry on the phone? Be sad?
She is sad, and perhaps she needs to cry. As a friend and a family member, sometimes the best gift you can give to a woman who has lost is the permission to grieve.
Kerstin Lindquist is a Program Host on QVC, an author, adoption and infertility advocate, and the mother of two daughters born five months apart. You can read her story at KerstinLindquistQVC.
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