By Lindsey Bell
My first Mother’s Day as a pregnant woman was wonderful. My thoughtful husband picked up a card that was from both him and our unborn child. My parents sent me a letter in the mail and reassured me I would be a great mom. I anxiously awaited the arrival of our first child. That holiday was perfect.
Two years later, though, Mother’s Day was no longer the perfect holiday. That particular Mother’s Day—and every one since—served as a reminder of the babies I have lost.
My husband and I have two beautiful children whom we both adore. I enjoy Mother’s Day because of these two boys. I love watching their faces light up as they show me the pictures they have colored and the gifts they have worked so hard to choose for me.
But I also remember the children who aren’t sitting beside me, holding out crayon masterpieces to display. My husband and I have lost four babies to miscarriage, and each Mother’s Day reminds me of them.
Mother’s Day is celebrated by many—but dreaded by others. For many women, instead of a time to celebrate, it’s a time to weep. Those who have lost children, those who have never been able to conceive, and those who are not married but desire a spouse and children often dread this particular holiday. For them, the day is a reminder of what they’ve lost or what they’ve never been able to have.
I want to share with you six ways that we, as the body of Christ, can encourage those who long for a child but, for whatever reason, don’t have one to hold.
1. Be there.
When my husband and I had our first miscarriage, my mom did something I will never forget. She came over to the house and sat with me. She didn’t offer advice or words of wisdom. I don’t remember if she said anything at all. What I do remember is she was there for me. She offered her presence to me, and that was exactly what I needed.
Because Mother’s Day is a difficult holiday for those who have experienced miscarriages, lost children, or struggled with infertility, we can minister to these women by being there for them. Some might want to share about their struggles; others might not. The important thing is not what we say, but the fact that we’re there.
2. Refrain from complaining.
A second way we can minister to those who wish they had a child is by refraining from complaining about our own children, if we have them.
My boys are ages 6 and 2. I remember well the time when I felt as if I was walking through a fog of exhaustion. I remember how hard those days and nights were. But now, because I have been on both sides of the infertility fence, I understand the need to refrain from complaining.
Family life—with children of all ages—can be difficult, but we are wise when we remember that someone else would give anything to have our difficulties. The very things we are complaining about are often the things for which someone else is praying.
Those sleepless nights . . . that sick child who vomited for the third time in 20 minutes . . . that strong-willed teenager . . . that chaos to make it to church on time—on the hard days, when we’re tempted to complain about our children or their behavior, we can stop and remember the women who want what we have. Our children are blessings, but sometimes we need a reminder of just how blessed we are to have them in our lives.
3. Do something.
A third way to minister to those who long for a child is to do something for them. We could send them a card or tell them we’re thinking of them. We could write them a prayer and then give it to them or take them their favorite food.
One of the common things people say at a funeral is, “Let me know if you need anything.” Though this is said with the best of intentions, it’s not often that a grieving person calls. A better thing to say instead is, “I’d love to bring you dinner tonight. What time is good for me to bring it over?” The same applies to women who may be grieving on Mother’s Day.
4. Remember with her.
After our miscarriages, one of my greatest fears was that no one would remember our babies. I knew I wouldn’t forget about them, but I feared others would. Because of this fear, one of the greatest gifts someone can give to me is to remember the babies I have lost.
Mother’s Day is a great time to remember a friend’s child who is no longer with her. Most women who have lost babies will already be thinking of their child on this day anyway, so you don’t need to worry about bringing up a painful memory. Instead, when you remember her baby with her, you offer her a beautiful gift she will likely always remember.
5. Pray for her.
As believers, we have one of the most powerful tools in our tool belt: prayer. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget how powerful this tool can be. We say, “I’m praying for you. Is there anything else I can do?” as if prayer is not a big thing.
Prayer is a huge thing, and it’s a great way to minister to those who are hurting on Mother’s Day. Bring those who long for a child before the throne room of Jesus. List them by name before the Father, and ask him to wrap his arms around each of them.
Prayer isn’t a minor thing we can do for those who are hurting; it is the most important thing. We can’t heal broken hearts, but God can.
6. Think before you post.
One final way we can help those who are hurting on Mother’s Day is to think before we post on social media sites. If you scan through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media newsfeed on Mother’s Day, my guess is, most of the posts will have to do with motherhood. There will be pictures of moms with their children and beautiful tributes to mothers. Though these things are wonderful, they can also feel like a reopened wound to a woman who is already hurting.
If you are a mom, there’s no need to stop posting on these sites, but there is wisdom in thinking about your actions before you post. Before you post, think about the woman longing for a child today. Think about the woman who just learned she’ll never be able to carry a child. Think about the woman grieving her unborn baby she’ll never get to hold.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Mother’s Day is an opportunity for each of us to apply this verse to our lives. With those who are rejoicing over the children they hold in their arms—we can rejoice. And with those who are mourning the children they do not have, we can mourn.
Lindsey Bell is an author and blogger in Carterville, Missouri (www.lindsey-bell.com).