When Mother’s Day Is Bittersweet {Celebrating Amidst the Grief}

woman on bed in grief with delicate pink details and "when mother's day is bittersweet" in text

**I want to preface this post by saying that my words may trigger some of you. If you feel like your heart is in a tender spot today, it is more than okay to stop reading right now. I have been there. If I’m being honest, some days I am still there. It’s important to know our limits and protect ourselves the best we can, especially when it comes to triggers.**

Mother’s Day has been and will always be an incredibly difficult day for me.

I lost my own mom at a young age, and I have since lost two babies of my own. Some years, it feels like a double whammy.

Yet right there in the midst of the pain, there are these two beautiful rays of light: my real-life double rainbow, sweet kiddos that are here in my arms. Bittersweet is the only way to describe this day and the feelings that come along with it.

tulips in varying shades of pink

As soon as we enter May, and even before the day itself gets here, my heart immediately jumps into anticipation mode. The aisles are filled with the Mom and Mother’s Day cards. Gift guides fill my news feeds. Every commercial seems to hit just the right (wrong) spot.

So many triggers. SO many.

I’ll never forget my first Mother’s Day actually having a baby to fill my arms. That was a year that I was certain would be different. And it was. But not in the way I had anticipated.

I had hoped that having my arms full with my son Samuel would somehow fill the empty spots in my heart. That the pain of losing his big sister Savannah and even my own mom would somehow be lessened because I was now a mom myself to a little boy who not only entered this world but stayed and is still here.

To my surprise, that wasn’t how that day went. I still very much missed my daughter and my own mom. Their absence was not minimized at all. However, my heart did have a shift that year, and I learned that you can celebrate even in the midst of grief.

Every Mother’s Day since then has been filled with what I like to call “both/ands.”

Both laughter and sorrow.
Both being thankful and still missing.
Both celebrating and grieving.

woman on bed in grief with delicate pink details and "when mother's day is bittersweet" in textThe last few years I have finally learned to accept that this will be my normal. This holiday will always be filled with both sweet and difficult moments. I will feel the weight of my beautiful kiddos’ arms as they wrap themselves around me in the tightest hug and at the same time, I also feel the weight of missing my mom and two of our girls.

When I think of this day, it almost feels impossible to be both happy and sad. But somehow I have learned to be just that.

I have learned how to open the pink cards and read the words printed inside about this honorary title of Mom that I have earned, while crying both grateful tears and those of heartbreak.

I have experienced unspeakable joy watching Samuel walk into our room with a bouquet of flowers, even when I can’t do the same for my own mom.

I have smiled while taking the traditional Mother’s Day photo at brunch, knowing full well that two precious little girls were missing from the table. There have been moments of celebration even during the toughest of days.

To the moms who have lost babies and children.
To the women missing their own moms.
To those who are waiting and yearning for the motherhood season.
To those who may have a strained relationship with their mothers.
You are seen, loved, and not alone.

I know how hard this day can be, and if you feel those emotions as well, I want you to know that you are in good company. I am standing in the “both/and” with you, and we will make it out the other side. Together.

Previous articleThe 12 Military Spouses You’ll Meet (Plus One)
Next articleHow to Throw an Awesome Graduation Party
Rebecca Hurtley
Hey there, I'm Rebecca! I am a believer, proud military wife, and Mama of 4; 2 in Heaven and 2 here with us. I’m originally from Florida, but we moved to Ohio about three years ago and I honestly LOVE the change. Dayton was quick to feel like home to us, and we've definitely been enjoying the seasons! Being a Mom is the happiest full-time job, but I love making the time to keep up with my personal interests as well. I run a blog and Instagram @theivynest; where I share a bit of our story and everyday life, along with my love of home decor and keeping things simple. Life is definitely busy, but I truly believe that it is equally as beautiful when we choose to see it that way!