Day 030: It’s Okay to Mourn Even Years Later

May 10th is a historically difficult day for me. It’s crazy that with 365 days in a year, my two worst days both fell on the same date 13 years apart. What’s worse is the day’s connection to Mother’s Day and the celebration my family and I should be having.

On May 10th, two days before Mothers’ Day in 1996, I started the bleeding that signified the beginning of the loss of my first child. After weeks of doctors claiming my pain was, “just a miscarriage,” the pain got too intense and the bleeding went on too long. I’d been getting faint and didn’t understand what was happening. I was scared and heart broken. I’d had enough. I tearfully and angrily begged the doctors to find out what was wrong with me. That’s when they found my baby was not “just a miscarriage” but he or she had implanted in my fallopian tube instead of in my uterus. I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. That “procedure” would save my life while it took the life of my unborn child.

13 years later, I was five months pregnant with our fifth little boy on May 10th, which was Mother’s Day that year. It was also the day my husband decided to drop his bombshell. He’d reconnected with a former girlfriend on social media. The short story is that he moved out one week later leaving me to raise our five little boys alone.

We’ve all seen posts about anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions remembering loved ones who have passed on. Family members post sweet photos and messages about or even to those lost loved ones along with the desire to meet the deceased in Heaven one day. The response is always positive. Comments are made in support of the post and in remembrance of how special the deceased was. Mourning the loss is expected and empathy is expressed.

Not all grief is shared in such a way though. Much grief is suffered in shame and isolation. An abandoned spouse who recognizes and feels badly about his anniversary, the date of the first kiss, or the song that played when his girlfriend agreed to become his wife cannot publicly mourn such things without seeming strange or stuck in the past to others.

Social norms prohibit us from talking about certain losses. If one who has lost a spouse to divorce posts about her anniversary, she will not receive the same support the spouse of one who has died would get. She often suffers alone and in silence. Most, including the divorced spouse, would agree that it would be weird to post photos and messages showing how much we miss our exes or how wonderful life together, no matter how short, was, and so we judge ourselves for feeling bad.

There is an expectation that we “move on” from certain kinds of loss. There is an expectation that we are not supposed to feel pain after a certain amount of time because time heals all wounds. There is an expectation that we forget about the loss and the dreams we put so much of ourselves into and turn to something – or someone – else instead.

But anyone who has been through a real and traumatic loss knows otherwise. This is true with divorce and with many other situations. Child loss, suicide, rape, sexual abuse, and motor vehicle accidents as well as many other painful events put blame on the victim and make public mourning nearly impossible. Shame and isolation threaten to cut victims off from others who really care.

The mindset shift here is to break free from the idea that grief and mourning are only allowed for certain types of losses and that your loss is not one that can be mourned years later. If you are feeling grief, take it as a sign that you are to reach out to a few close loved ones or a group with similar experiences whose members may understand what you are going through. See your pain as an opportunity to draw closer to Christ on the Cross.

Grief is not an all or nothing situation. It is not a once and done event. Grief comes and goes; your pain and memories will do the same. There will be days that are hard and days that are easier. You will smile and laugh again and you will have good times, but you will also have bad times.

Grief is like life in that way.

We must honor both and give credence to the sadness we feel without staying stuck in it. Choosing a day of mourning allows you to do that. This day may be an anniversary or a day like my May 10th that signifies personal loss. It may be a random Tuesday in June that you choose to set aside to remember, reflect, and give it to God.

The challenge is to set aside time to mourn and honor your sadness without staying stuck in it. For me, May 10th is my day to mourn. I remember the day and pray for others suffering too. I offer my struggles up in reparation for sin and pain others feel and that I’ve caused. I dedicate the day to remembering as honestly as I can the good and bad of the child I carried so close to my heart for such a short time as well as the good and bad of the marriage which failed. I lay my burdens at the feet of Christ Crucified and hand my worries over to Him.

Whatever your May 10th is, do not hide from it. Do not run from it. Mourning has a way of catching up to us often when we least expect it. Instead, set aside a period of mourning, work a routine into that mourning, reach out to a friend, and ask God to guide your way. Determine to mourn and move through. Give yourself permission to mourn in set periods and for given amounts of time.

End every mourning session with the decision to choose joy again and then act in a way that moves you out of mourning and into fulfillment.

God Bless…

Gratitude Journal – May 10, 2023

Thank You Lord for…

  1. Days I cried so hard; they helped me want to see clearly
  2. Days my legs gave out from under me; they helped me learn the value of standing strong
  3. Days of loneliness; they helped me appreciate silence.
  4. Days of total rejection; they helped me eliminate all but God.
  5. Days I wanted to die; they helped me see the fragility of life
  6. Days that lasted years; they helped me better understand God’s view of time
  7. Days I was unloved; they helped me be more loving.
  8. Days I could not sleep; they helped me learn the value of rest.
  9. Days I could not shut off my mind; they helped me learn the power of choice.
  10. Days I had no one but you My Lord; they helped me understand You are all I need.

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