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Identifying and processing grief.

This Mother’s Day, let’s hold space for those who are grieving.

You can show online support for those who are feeling blue this Mother’s Day through the Blue Mother’s Day campaign in two ways:

  • Use the hashtag #BlueMothersDay along with loving, supportive content; or with your story to raise awareness.
  • Draw a blue heart on your hand and post the photo on your social media channels. You can also download the #BlueMothersDay graphic to use on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to download the #BlueMothersDay blue heart image.

Why is Mother’s Day a trigger for grief?

Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to show appreciation for the mothers or mother figures in your life, but it can also be a heartbreaking day for many. There are a lot of different circumstances that can cause grief on Mother’s day, including:

  • Mothers who have lost children
  • Those who have had a miscarriage
  • Those experiencing infertility
  • Those who are childless not by choice
  • Mothers who have given children up for adoption
  • Those who have lost their mothers
  • Children who have strained relationships with their mothers
  • Mothers who have strained relationships with their children

For those who are grieving, Mother’s Day is a reminder of what they don’t have or have lost.

Why Blue Mother’s Day?

Blue Mother’s Day is an opportunity to support those who are feeling “blue” on Mother’s Day. From strangers wishing them a “Happy Mother’s Day” to social media streams filled with reminders of their loss, grief triggers seem unavoidable.

By participating in the Blue Mother’s Day Campaign, you can hold space for those who are grieving, including yourself. What does it mean to “hold space”? According to Adam Brady at the Chopra Center:

Holding space is a conscious act of being present, open, allowing, and protective of what another needs in each moment…To hold means to embrace or encircle someone or something in your grasp. Physically, this might take the form of a hug or the cradling of a hand in yours. But you can also embrace someone non-physically with your intention, attention and energy.

Space refers to the immediate environment you are sharing with another. This, too, may be the physical space of a room, but more frequently refers to the mental and emotional environment you are in with others. Put together, these words embody the principle of surrounding the environment with your awareness in a way that provides comfort and compassion for all.

By participating in the Blue Mother’s Day campaign, you can hold “digital” space by contributing online content that supports those who are grieving. Imagine the difference in experience if those who are grieving could use one hashtag to find messages of support, love and acceptance on Mother’s Day.

How to Participate

You can show online support for those who are feeling blue this Mother’s Day through the Blue Mother’s Day campaign in two ways:

  • Use the hashtag #BlueMothersDay along with loving, supportive content; or with your story to raise awareness.
  • Draw a blue heart on your hand and post the photo on your social media channels. You can also download the #BlueMothersDay graphic to use on Facebook and Twitter. 

Click here to download the #BlueMothersDay blue heart image.

Here are some other ways you can support those who are grieving on Mother’s Day:

Does Blue Mother’s Day take away from Mother’s Day?

Blue Mother’s Day isn’t meant to take away from Mother’s Day or imply that it shouldn’t be celebrated. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the mothers or mother figures in your life. By all means, celebrate!

The purpose of this campaign is to recognize that not everyone finds joy or feels like celebrating on Mother’s Day. For those who are grieving, it creates a separate online space to acknowledge that grief, easily find messages of love and support, and create community.

Add your voice by participating online this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2019.

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A few months ago I was at a full moon circle, a small event where women gather to let go of the things that aren’t serving them and to make space for what they want to create. We ended the night with a type of meditation called breathwork.

As I lay there, focused on my breathing, one sentence kept playing in my mind: I never knew real love until I had a child. I’ve heard this or variations of it many times over the past few years and it haunts me. Because if it’s true, it means that all the love I have in my life isn’t “real” but the shadow of something greater that I can never experience.

I thought of other hurtful statements I’ve heard: that parents have a greater capacity for empathy; that having children is the meaning of life; that people without kids are selfish; that God blessed them with children or a miracle baby; that you aren’t a “real” woman until you’ve given birth; that having kids is what makes you a family.

Then, in contrast to the mashup of awful thoughts swimming in my head and with tears streaming down my face, snapshots of my life came into focus.

My mom taking on my grief, crying with me during life-shattering moments. My husband’s face when I make him laugh and the way his eyes look when he’s worried about me. The overwhelming awe and joy I feel when I see my nieces and nephews. The themed sleepovers my dad would plan when I was a kid to make weekends at his house special. The weekly Mario Kart battles I have with my brother where we talk and drink for hours. The warm, engaging conversations I have with my brother-in-law and his wife. The way my sisters can always make me laugh and how our history connects us in a way unlike any other. My friends that are so close they have become family.

If this isn’t real love then I don’t know if I need real love. Because the love I have now is so strong, so powerful that it already feels hard to contain. The beauty of it overwhelms me. If I am fortunate enough to sustain this level of love throughout my life, I will die knowing that I loved deeply, wholly, and was loved that way in return.

In that moment, I decided to start telling myself a different story. I’m sharing it here because it is just as true for you as it is for me.

I am not a mom,
but I know real love.

I am not a mom,
but I am a powerful source of creation.

I am not a mom,
but there are endless ways I can contribute to this world.

I am not a mom,
but I have the ability to nurture.

I am not a mom,
but anyone who identifies as a woman is a “real” woman.

I am not a mom,
but I have a family, some members by blood and some I chose.

I am not a mom,
but I am empathetic because I have felt a wide range of emotions inherent to the human experience.

I am not a mom,
but I have the power to create a life that is meaningful to me.

I am not a mom,
but I am full of love and energy that I can choose to invest as I wish.

As I was repeating these mantras in my mind, the woman leading the meditation walked over and placed her hands lightly on either side of my hips, her fingers across my pelvic area where my womb used to be. It felt comforting and a little spooky since I had never met her and she knew nothing about me or my situation.

When the meditation was over, I asked her if she had touched other women in the circle that way and she replied no, just me. I asked her why and she said she tries to stay open to the energy of what each woman in the circle was needing. I still am not entirely sure how to process this experience, but I like to believe it was the universe sending confirmation that although I am not a mom, I am enough.

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There are moments so life-altering that as you experience them you know you will never be the same again. That forever after, you think of your life as pre and post the experience. Birth, death, marriage, heartbreak, can change who you are so completely that it alters your identity. These moments are so powerful because of the gain or loss we experience as a result. A birth or marriage expands families and relationships. Death and heartbreak sever them.

Throughout my life, I assumed that having a baby would be one of those life-altering experiences for me. That I would have clearly defined chapters labeled “before I was a mom” and “after I was a mom”. In 2013, I started trying to get pregnant. Four years later that journey ended, not with the ever elusive yet longed for miracle baby, but with a hysterectomy.

I was wildly unprepared for this and it knocked me into a lonely, dark place. I had planned on a beautiful, life-altering event and experienced the opposite: loss and grief that consumed me to the core. So I did what I always do when my anxiety-ridden brain feels a loss of control. I researched. I read everything I could find on living an unexpectedly childfree life, found supportive online communities, went to therapy, read memoirs, talked to friends and family, tapped into spirituality, you name it.

I was looking for a road map. Instructions on how to move forward when just getting out of bed felt impossible. Unfortunately, there isn’t an aisle in the bookstore for this situation. The path feels lonely and untrodden. Slowly though, I’ve been gathering resources that, cobbled together, are helping me design an unexpectedly childfree life. Giving me a path forward through the grief and anger.

I’m at the beginning of my journey and I don’t have all the answers, but I have found hope through the wisdom and stories of women who started this journey long before me. Who have cleared the brush and left footprints for me to follow. Through Chasing Creation, I hope to share the resources I find along my journey, to add a bit of light for my sisters that will follow on this path.

Maybe together we can answer the question that plagues me: can a life defining moment that feels so devastating and full of loss eventually be redesigned into something beautiful?

For those of you on this journey with me, I hope we can connect through this project. That together we can share our wisdom, move forward on the path, and get to a place in our journey where we can yell a resounding “YES” to those just starting out.

How about you? Where have you gone to build community and healing?

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