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 | By Dr. Cathleen McGreal

I Lost a Child, and Mothers’ Day is Hard. Can’t They Avoid Talking About It at Church?


Q. I was in church on Mothers’ Day and the priest talked about motherhood in the homily. Then he asked all the mothers to stand for a blessing at the end. We lost our only child a couple of years ago and this is so painful for me. Don’t you think the Church should be more sensitive on a day that is so difficult for so many people and just not bring it up?

A. Once, when we were driving, my grandma explained the difference between displaying blue or gold stars during World War II. The stars were long gone, but she knew how many there had been in each window. Her home had three blue stars for members serving in the military and they remained blue. But, one day, the lone blue star in a window down the street was covered with gold. That young soldier had died. Women gathered on that front porch of the home mourning together. Like Mary, mothers carry these memories in their hearts; they hold them there for a lifetime.

If you can, stand for your blessing.

You will always be a mother. When you pray each day for your child, you pray as mom. The heartbreaking part is that you don’t get to go through all the developmental changes: moving through grades at school, discerning a vocation, seeing talents blossom. But you don’t need those experiences to be a parent. You are a parent. Let God’s love surround you during the blessing. Have your husband and close friends sit beside you so that you feel their warmth and support.

Spend time in prayer with the Blessed Mother.

Perhaps pondering these verses will help you in your distress: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-2) Your future has changed completely since your child’s life gave a particular focus to your own and a timeline to your expectations. Contact the funeral home to see if there is a parental support group. Check with your parish to see if there is a bereavement ministry or a special ministry for parents who have lost children.

Pray for others whose hearts ache on Mothers’ Day.

Mothers’ Day is difficult for those who want to be parents. In many parishes, women who love others with a mother’s heart – such as aunts and godmothers, teachers and friends – are invited to stand and be blessed.