A Ritual for Mothers of Lost Children

other’s Day for all of the Hallmark-esque marketing and posturing, does celebrate a vital and often looked over presence — that of the Mother, Mom, Momma, Ma. For many women, the holiday marks a special day when they get to take a break and relax, and it gives their children and partners a chance to honor them in extra special ways. These are all very good things. However, a group that is often looked over not just on Mother’s Day but in general, is the group of women and men who have lost children.

One can be a mother of lost children regardless of gender, and the stories span the spectrum…from children who are missing, who have died in all numbers of ways, who are present in body but disconnected from hearth and kin. One can be a mother of lost children too if one wished to have children but was unable for so many reasons not to conceive or carry to term. Some mothers of lost children had to walk away from their child, not wanting to but not having, or seeing, any other choice. Other mothers of lost children made a conscious decision not to bring children into the world…but the decision was not simple or easy and it is not ever forgotten. Many mothers of lost children live in a hellish limbo, in countries around the world torn to pieces by war and poverty, by avarice and cruelty – in many cases these mothers watched as their children were forcibly removed, or worse, in front of their very eyes.

We tend to disregard or look beyond these mothers of lost children generally, for how does one speak, sit, listen to, comfort someone who has faced this greatest of all losses? It often feels too much to bear and that one’s lack of experience will show all too plainly — that we will do or say, think or act in the wrong way. Maybe so. Our attempts to comfort, to heal, and to bless are not always elegant, they can be clumsy for sure, but simply to decide to act in kindness towards someone, especially someone who has known such loss, is an act of healing in and of itself.

So for those of you who wish to celebrate Mother’s Day this year I have a ritual for you. It does not involve candles, incantations, or a beautifully decorated altar. You need only three things: a phone, the name of someone you know who is a mother of a lost child, and a phone number.

The ritual is simple: call up this person and let them know that you love them, let them know that you see them, talk with them on this day about whatever they want to talk about. Take a few minutes to do this. If appropriate let them know how they have been a mother to you or to ones you love. Thank them. Love them. Bless them in the ways you can. It matters more than you think and it makes a difference more than you know.

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