Warning: this post deals with infant death and could be triggering for some readers.
International Bereaved Mother’s Day – Sunday 1 May 2016, a day dedicated to the Mums whose babies are no longer.
With Mother’s Day soon approaching, Anne Altamore from Sands, a support network for parents who have experience miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn loss, who sadly lost her twins to miscarriage shares how International Bereaved Mother’s Day can provide comfort and hope to all the women whose babies and children are no longer here to celebrate with them.
Mother’s day, a day to honour and cherish my mother when she was with us. A day to remember her after she had passed. A day I remember being pregnant and looking forward to the following year when I could join that ‘elite club of mothers.’
A day I did not want to face after I lost my twin babies and the day I hated after my fertility journey ended without a child. This was the day of the year I dreaded most. Everywhere, reminders of what I could not have and would not ever experience. The one day of the year, I allowed myself to wallow and indulge in my pain.
To a newly bereaved mother – this could possibly be the second worst day of the year. A day when the whole world seems to conspire to remind her of what she does not have, the memories she won’t create, the sibling that her surviving children will not play with. And for those, like me, starting on their childfree journey, it could be a sharp reminder of the sad and lonely place she will now have to endure every year.
Bereaved Mother’s Day – how I hated those words when I first read them. The two words together seemed like a two-pronged sword to my heart. I do not need to be reminded that not only am I not a mother, I am a mother who mourns what can never be.
But hey, wait a minute, let’s look at those words again – here is a day that actually acknowledges me and my unique situation – a mother who was but who is now not. There is comfort and healing in these words now.
In a world so focussed on mothers and children, International Bereaved Mother’s Day, screams out as a day for mothers who grieve to break away from the isolation and join in solidarity with the empathy of others who understand the unique pain of loving children who are no longer here. Children, who for some may not have had any tangibility beyond a blood test or a grainy ultrasound picture, and yet occupy a profound space in the hearts of their mothers.
A day when I am reminded that it is okay to remember, that it is okay to say “no” to invitations that may be too painful. A day where I carefully balance treasured memories with ensuring I do not hold onto grief or resentment. While I may not belong to the “elite club of mothers” with children in their arms, International Bereaved Mother’s day validates me as a mother and reminds me that there are others like me from whom I can seek support.
My hope is that Bereaved Mother’s day, which falls the week before Mother’s day, helps others to become aware that Mother’s Day can be bittersweet for many. My hope is that in the midst of your celebrations, you remember to be kind and respectful to a bereaved mother who may be struggling on Mother’s Day.
My hope is that bereaved mothers are encouraged to find in each other the special bond that grows from hearts united through sadness, hearts that help each other see rainbows in the rain and heal to smile again. And don’t forget that Sands (support services for those affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death) is available around the clock if you need someone to talk to. There is no time limit on grief and Sands has and is still are always there for me during my darkest hours, providing a real sense of understanding and hope.
An estimated one in four pregnancies (103,000) ends in miscarriage in Australia each year, while approximately 3,000 babies are either stillborn or die in the first 28 days after birth.
Sands is very pleased to supporting the 6th International Bereaved Mother’s Day on Sunday 1 May 2016. Sands will run a number of events to coincide with this day, offering parents support, comfort and time to reflect on their babies that have died. For locations and more information about these events visit: www.sands.org.au
Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, information and hope to parents and families who experience the death of a baby. All Sands Parent Supporters understand the heartbreak and devastation that follows the death of a baby, as they too have experienced it. Sand also offers resources and education for healthcare professionals.
Sands is available around the clock for anyone affected by the death of a baby. You can contact them on their helpline 1300 072 637 or visit www.sands.org.au.
Watch Mia Freedman talk about the miscarriage of her daughter: