A different kind of mother's day

finding connection in loss

Photo by Joshua Fuller

Guest post by Morgan Brown

I was sitting in a cafe a few weeks ago, scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post titled “10 Best Mother’s Day Gifts” and thought to myself, here we go again. You see, after my mom was killed a few years ago by a commercial truck driver swerving into her lane, Mother’s Day has been everything but celebratory. It would be a different kind of Mother's Day from that moment on; a day that I didn't look forward to...until recently.

It seems to creep up on me every year. Weeks before Mother's Day, I’m bombarded with gift guides and marketing ploys all at once. I usually want to hide from it, but this year was different. Instead of avoiding Mother’s Day as usual, I realized that I wasn't the only one grieving the loss of my mom; there were just as many women who were grieving the loss of a child.

In that moment I became soft. There's a whole group of people I had failed to see, and I realized that Mother’s Day, as hard as it is, is not all about me.

I call these “mountain moments” which are, quite simply, moments when my perspective changes to something greater than myself.

My first mountain moment - and the reason for it’s name - came as I was traveling the world. My mom had been killed a year prior and I was seeking respite from the daily “how are you?” and stares from people in my small town who knew.

I chose travel for the anonymity and the escape, but even with that, I couldn’t shake the feeling of isolation. No one knew what I was going through.

Even if I told them, they wouldn’t understand. I was on an island of grief with no boat and certainly no life raft.

That changed on a flight from France to Thailand.

I awoke mid-flight to see a giant mountain illuminated by a low hanging moon. I stared in awe. I didn’t dare try capturing the view with anything but a mental picture because I knew no picture could do it justice. I could see for miles and miles.

It was here from this aerial view that I realized, maybe for the first time since my mother’s death, that I wasn’t alone. People in all of time and space have endured grief, pain, and tragedy. You might think I’d feel more isolated after this realization; that my pain, while honest and real, was just a speck in the ocean in all of humanity. Instead, I felt less alone.

I felt a connection to people I didn’t know and stories left unseen. I felt empathy for the world in ways I’d never known, all because I looked beyond myself.

Mountain moments can come in both big and small ways. They invite you to move the spotlight from yourself toward others. They can be as simple as taking another’s perspective in a relationship or an argument, or as big as my first, where I realized I wasn’t alone in my grief.

Realizing people without mothers aren’t the only ones grieving on Mother’s Day was another mountain moment for me.

I asked myself, What if, instead of distantly empathizing for mothers who’ve lost children, I connect with them, hear their stories, and hold space for the child in their life who is gone?

What if I invited others who’ve lost a mother into it as well?

That’s how the A Different Kind of Mother’s Day project was born.

The project is a chance for people who’ve lost their mothers to connect with mothers who’ve lost a child so they can hear or say "Happy Mother's Day" on May 14, 2017.

It's an opportunity to connect through loss and take a step toward collective healing.

It’s not about reliving painful memories; it's about talking with someone who understands that Mother’s Day isn’t always celebratory.

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Loss can involve a host of situations that don't involve the death of a loved one. It can include mothers who are struggling to conceive; people estranged from their mothers; people who lost someone who raised them; women who experienced a miscarriage.

Whatever your unique situation is, this event is founded on community, not technicalities. So if you want to participate, you're most welcome to join. 

To learn more about A Different Kind of Mother's Day and be part of the event, please click here.​

Mother’s Day will come and go each year - it’s unavoidable. But when we allow people on both sides of loss - either as a mother or child - to show up for each other in powerful ways, we're able to move toward empathy, healing and community building.

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Morgan Brown is on a mission to talk about death and dying in a world that doesn’t. What started out as honest Instagram captions about the death of her mom soon turned into a passion for bringing this conversation out into the open through interactive art and social projects. Morgan graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a history degree. Her writings have been featured in publications such as Passion Passport and Literati Magazine. When Morgan is not trying to convince people to read William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, you can find her adventuring in her 1970 VW campervan. Her website, Death Dialogue: Permission to be Human, is launching soon.

Click here to learn more about Morgan and her latest project.

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