Acknowledging motherhood: thoughts on Mother’s Day from bereaved mothers

It is said that the relationship between a mother and her child is an unprecedented bond, and at Very Special Kids we witness this every day.

Mother’s Day is most commonly a time of celebration and a chance for children to express their love and appreciation, as well as mothers themselves to rejoice in their own motherhood. However, for mothers who have lost a child, Mother’s Day evokes bittersweet emotions. It can be a challenging time and their experience of motherhood is too often overlooked by society.

Sonja Jamsek, who has been coming to our ‘Creating Memories’ scrap-booking sessions at Very Special Kids for four years now, knows this feeling all too well. Summer was just sixteen hours and nine minutes old, when she was in her mother Sonja’s arms at the hospital and passed away with no warning, from an unknown cause.

Sonja often receives comments from people trying to offer support, saying as awful as it is, she is lucky that it wasn’t later on in Summer’s life, because it may have been harder for the family. People simply struggle to understand, not because they don’t care or sympathise, but because unless you have experienced the loss of a child, it is incomprehensible. “When is it ever the right time to lose a child?” says Sonja.

“One thing’s for sure, I am a mother of three children. People see me as a mother of two but just because Summer’s not here doesn’t mean I’m not her mother.”

On the subject of Mother’s Day, Sonja explains that it’s a sad and happy day, all at once. On this day, she tries to do something that reflects each of her children, including Summer. Sonja calls her time at our scrapbooking sessions, her “Summer time”.

“It’s my time to spend with Summer uninterrupted. I’m around people who understand. If I want to talk about Summer, or even just cry, the acceptance is there.”

Kara Chunn, who also attends regular scrap-booking sessions at Very Special Kids, insists on celebrating the joy and honour of being a mother on Mother’s Day, despite losing one of her children Coco, at two and a half years of age.

Coco was born with a heart condition and in her short life she endured six open heart surgeries and ten procedures. “She was a gentle, happy and kind soul who loved music and all things Playschool. I guess she never understood what all the trouble was. She just took it in her stride, ‘better now?’ she would ask” Says Kara.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling….I am so grateful and blessed to have been Coco’s mother but so sad and empty at the same time thinking of what could have been.”

On Mother’s Day, for women who have lost a child, had a miscarriage, stillbirth or struggled to conceive, feelings of intense pain, unworthiness and isolation can be triggered. For, no matter how long one has their child, experiencing loss changes you, and that motherhood most certainly needs to be acknowledged.

When asked what advice she would give other mothers coping with loss on this challenging day, Kara said “Go gently, and be kind to yourself”.

If you want to cry, please cry. If you want to celebrate, please celebrate. If you want to honour your motherhood, please honour it. There is no right way, no rules to follow.

Happy Mother’s Day for this Sunday from Very Special Kids, to all mums, bereaved and not, thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.

Our next Creating Memories scrap-booking session is on the 31st of May at 10.00am. This is open to all bereaved parents. For more information click here.