To a certain degree holidays often bring out painful emotions. People grieve deeply as the birthday of a deceased loved one comes or when they open presents the first Christmas after a loved one has departed.
But it seems to me that Mother’s Day may be the hardest holiday of all.
Some women struggle with emotions over estranged children, those they have lost, or the inability to conceive. The CDC states that about 6% of married women between the age of 15–44 are unable to conceive. The American Pregnancy Association estimates that approximately 10–25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and a recent study discussed in Time Magazine suggests that it is really closer to 30%.
Whatever the exact numbers, two things remain true: (1) pregnancy loss and/or lack of conception is common, and (2) many women feel alone in their pain.
A quote in Time states, “Most people think it’s an incredibly rare event, so when it happens to them they feel very isolated.”
And honestly, it’s just not something that is talked about much.
When it comes to the church community, it seems we know how to rejoice in times of celebration but struggle to mourn with those who mourn.
One blogger commented in a previous year, “Yesterday was the worst day of the year for thousands of people in the U.S. And on the worst day of the year, the church is the worst place to be. Mother’s Day is a cheerful parade that tramples those of us who struggle with infertility and never even notices.”
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Mother’s Day is a time for both rejoicing and weeping. We rejoice as we thank God for the women in our lives who bore the tremendous job of nurturing life. We mourn in solidarity with those who’ve had life ripped away from them.
But just how can we comfort those who grieve? Here are a few ideas:
- Acknowledge those in pain during the Sunday service—This may simply be a pastor or church leader who lifts up the grieving during a prayer in front of the congregation, or a memorial of white flowers placed at the front of the church in memory of those we’ve lost.
- Don’t ask mothers to stand to be recognized during the service—This can be awkward and painful for those who are mothers by virtue of carrying life for a brief period of time, but not recognized by the public as a mother since they have never held their child in their arms.
- Ask a woman to share a testimony or word of encouragement for those who grieve.
- Have a woman preach the Mother’s Day sermon—It’s God-honoring and reverent to the women in our congregation to hear their wisdom on a day set aside for them. It also demonstrates that a woman’s worth and influence reaches further than raising children, something that is far too often forgotten.
- Give a donation to hurting women around the world—World Vision offers many opportunities to support women through funds for disaster relief, global food crisis, and health care.