By: Keisha Wells
Thirteen years ago, I faced my first Mother’s Day without my sons—just 29 days after they took their first and last breaths. Although a bitter-sweet celebration, I was gently supported by family and received thoughtful gifts and love on this premiere day in my motherhood.
The first of so many days I worked to brace myself and prepare for all the emotions a loss mom can feel while hoping for the best in enduring and honoring the forever bond between mother and child.
Of all the birthdays, holidays, and anniversary dates weathered on my grief and healing journey, I have never been quarantined. Never balanced the joy and pain of my world with that of a chaotic and wounded global world. Never been challenged to steady my grief in loss with the grief felt while sheltering in place, in isolation, during a pandemic. But I, like you too, have felt the sting of a depressive, deadly, hidden, and divisive enemy in loss.
In some ways, our experiences with pregnancy and infant loss mirror our experiences now in withstanding the adversary that is COVID-19.
As loss moms, we experience a loss of control.
We feel isolated.
We ponder an unknown future.
We feel raw and yet numb.
We fear and question the unknown, unseen, and unexpected.
We feel panic, regret, rage, and confusion.
We also feel hope, love, and gratitude.
We are not foreign to these emotions as many bombard us now in managing a new normal in this pandemic. We have survived the harshest, most heart-breaking days in life, and will continue to master loss in the face of COVID-19, even as our needs and comforts seem so out of touch.
I hope you realize this: COVID-19 cannot disrupt your motherhood or the fact that it is to be honored daily.
Many facets of our everyday lives have changed, but you are a mom—we are moms—before, during, and after the pandemic. There are choices in and rights to motherhood that COVID-19, as well as pregnancy and infant loss cannot diminish. No virus and no physical separation from my boys can tarnish my motherhood. I believe the same for you and your little one.
Traditionally, my Mother’s Day practice is to respect my motherhood and celebrate it how I choose. To honor the gift of my twin sons in making me a mom. To acknowledge our connection and bloodline. Mother’s Day has looked different each year. Some years have been quiet and introspective, while others have been more festive. And here we are now, Mother’s Day 2020, facing a unique challenge in honoring our motherhood during a time of mandated lockdowns and social distancing. Still, I don’t plan to change my position. My only expectation for this date is to be the best I can for the day and do whatever suits me. To allow my emotions to come and rest as they will. I intend to do just that this year—quarantined and all. I trust the same will be for you.
I hope you will resist imposing any expectations on yourself about what you should or should not do. You dictate your day—not COVID-19.
So, if you spend time journaling, writing a letter to your precious baby, watching your favorite movie (or three), planting flowers, or doing absolutely nothing as it’s your right—whatever it may be, let it be. But please acknowledge you and your rights on Mother’s Day.
You may feel a mix of emotions from joy to sadness to rage, but know my thoughts are with you. Please accept the following kind words as my gift to you on this Mother’s Day. Let them rest in your heart as positive affirmations. Let these words of light and power brighten the dark places in your life. Receive them as a fragrant, floral bouquet because you are deserving.
I believe in you and your ability to make it today and each day. Our tribe values you. We are many in number, but there is only one quite like you. Only one quite like your precious baby. You both matter so very much. Grief and loss will never defy the bond you have with your little one. I celebrate you today because you are a survivor. You are a beautiful and loving mother with such a caring and vibrant heart. The love you have for your sweet baby will always endure. It cannot truly be measured, nor will it be forgotten. Sweet mom, you matter. I celebrate your motherhood today and every day.
About Keisha Wells
Keisha Wells is a mom to twin angels, Kyle and Kendrick, and author of From Three Heartbeats to One: A Gentle Companion Offering Hope in Grieving Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Keisha is also a licensed professional counselor and owner of Transformation Counseling Services in Georgia. Her practice focuses on grief counseling and perinatal mental health services for women and moms. Keisha is an avid reader and writer, contributing to articles in ESSENCE Magazine, The New York Times, Bustle, Parents Magazine, and HuffPost. Connect with Keisha at www.keishawells.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/kwellslpc.