May contains two major holidays - Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Both of these holidays have gotten very tricky for me over the past 5-6 years. Mother’s Day 7 years ago I was pregnant with my son. He was due just 6 weeks later and I was elated! He was born a VERRYYY healthy 10lb 3oz chunk and the title of “Mommy” became one of my identifiers. Fast forward a year and I suddenly had friends who had miscarried. Mother’s Day came around and I felt a little guilty. I’ve attended the funeral of a newborn. We walked the adoption process for 2.5 years until God closed the door and told us to try for another biological child. We waited another year before he granted her. I’ve walked with my best friend as she experienced a miscarriage while I was pregnant with girl. I’ve seen adoptions fall through. I’ve seen women struggle with infertility. I know single women who would love to be married with children. Even more of my friends have had miscarriages. I know many women who struggle with their relationships with their own moms. I’ve watched moms of kids all ages grieve over the loss of their child…including my own mother. Enter Memorial Day.
My brother passed away in Afghanistan on July 28, 2013. Prior to his death, I’d never been to a military funeral and I had only acknowledged Memorial Day in the passing way most do. Memorial Day 2014 & 2015 I couldn’t attend the Sunday church service because I couldn’t deal with the slideshows or patriotic music. Memorial Day 2016 I managed to sit through it, although on the back row where I could leave quickly if needed (I needed to.) Last year, I sat through the service, stood when they honored the family members, and wept uncontrollably. Who knows how I’ll react in just a couple weeks.
For many, Memorial Day is a weekend for boating, burgers, and enjoying the start of summer with only passing acknowledgement of the sacrifice of so many military men and women. For many, Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate their awesome mommas or get adorable handprint crafts from their little ones. These responses aren’t wrong! However, we must remember that not everyone can approach these days with the same sense of celebration. How do we support and encourage those grieving during the month of May?
We have to take the time to get to know people’s stories. I don’t generally share about my brother if I don’t know the person. I don’t know of any woman who boldly proclaims her infertility or miscarriage struggles to the world. These are private moments and experiences and we shouldn’t rush people through them. But we MUST create a space where women are free to share with us when they’re ready. This means we first need to stop just saying “hi” in passing and instead invite them out for coffee or to our neighborhood pool so we can start a friendship. It’s in these shallow moments of conversation that we create a safe place to share the significant moments.
We also have to notice the silence or absence. Notice the woman who gets a little quiet or excuses herself from the conversations about the latest kid antics or the stress of motherhood. Notice the woman who is wiping her eyes or who’s looking down this Sunday when they give moms a shoutout. Perhaps she doesn’t have a child, has a wayward child, or has lost her child. Give her a hug. Tell her she matters. Ask her if she wants to talk. Notice the people struggling Memorial Day. We put on a good face, but it’s hard. Send a card to someone you know has lost a family member to war. Acknowledge those still in the military or who are veterans - not because of their service (there are other days for that) but because they have almost assuredly lost a friend or four to war.
Moms shouldn’t feel guilty for reveling in a day that’s meant to honor them. Moms go through a LOT and we should be noticed and appreciated. But “Mom” is just one small portion of who we are. We are strong, brave, independent, & creative employees, mentors, teachers, wives & WOMEN who matter. We are daughters of the Most High King first and foremost. As we celebrate mothers though, let’s not ignore that, for some, the day is hard. You shouldn’t feel guilty for the barbecues and summer fun you have planned for Memorial Day. Go! Enjoy the time with friends or family, but remember the women & men who sacrificed their own lives to maintain the freedom we have. Invite a family who’s lost a loved one to war to join your family this weekend. Take the time to pray for the families grieving.
Biblical hospitality means to love strangers. In a broad sense, it’s loving well on purpose. This month let’s do just that. Let’s look for those who are struggling to celebrate and love on them a little extra!!!