When Mother's Day is Hard

On the surface, Mother’s Day may seem like a happy holiday marked by family photos, sentimental cards, and a celebration of all things mom. For many of us, though, the holiday carries more weight and surfaces emotions that can be hard to acknowledge and express on a day designed for gratitude. You may have experienced the loss of a mother you held dear and the holiday reminds you of the void that just cannot be filled. Perhaps your relationship with your mother is complicated or painful, and Mother’s Day just serves to highlight this or surface an unmet longing. The holiday may be a heavy reminder of the child you have lost--through death or disconnection--and grief that your mother heart carries each and every day. Or you may find yourself overwhelmed by sadness as your longing for a child continues to go unmet. If you find yourself in a hard space for whatever reason this Mother’s Day, you are not alone.

If you are carrying pain connected to Mother’s Day, God sees you and is near. We need only to look at Scripture to be reminded that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18). God doesn’t leave us to face our pain alone. And not only is God near but He also invites us to honestly share our hearts with Him. God isn’t afraid or bothered by our authentic expression of difficult emotions and invites us to bring our whole selves when we come to Him. The Bible provides many examples of individuals giving voice to their grief and wrestling, from David’s writings in the Psalms to the book of Lamentations to Jesus’ own experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. When we choose to express our pain before God, this practice is called lament.

Lament opens us up to experience God’s presence with us in deeper, more expansive, and transformative ways. We invite God in to comfort and bring healing to those places where we are hurting. Lament is simply any prayer that describes with total honesty the pain, sorrow, anger, and desires we are experiencing while also expressing trust in the relentless goodness of God. In lament, all our feelings are welcomed; nothing needs to be censored or held back. Also, we get in touch with our desires. What do we really want or need from God? Finally, we are invited to return to a place of trust in God’s plans, purposes, and provision. In lament, our pain is named and known and entrusted to God’s loving care.

As you recognize the pain you are personally carrying this Mother’s Day, we invite you to engage in the practice of lament. You may want to write your own lament, expressing to God the fullness of the emotions that you are carrying around the holiday. To support you with this, a step by step guide has been provided. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to write your own lament, you are welcome to pray one of the Mother’s Day laments provided here.

 

How to Write a Lament

1. Prepare to Lament

Reflect on what aspect of life you are grieving that you want to bring before God in lament. For mothers, it could be an experience from the past or something that you are currently facing. For sons and daughters, it may be a memory from childhood or something you have experienced as an adult child.

Questions for reflection and response

As a mother, son, or daughter, what area of your past or present relationship feels wounded?
Where are you experiencing pain in relation to your mother in this season?
As a mother, how have you experienced broken relationships with your children?
As a mother, son, or daughter, where are you experiencing pain in this season?
What did or do you miss out on in your relationship with your mother or child?

Possible starting points

God, lately I have been feeling...
God, I am upset about…
God, as I look back on my childhood, I feel…

2. Cry Out to God

Begin your prayer of lament by calling out to God

Questions for reflection and response

What name do you want to use to address God? It may be something from Scripture like Rock, Refuge, Shepherd, Lord, King, etc…
Why do you want to bring this specific prayer to God?
Do you notice any ways that your relationship with your mother or children has influenced your view of God?

Possible starting points

Oh God, my rock…
Most merciful God…
How long, O Lord?

3. Complaint

Describe the problem; give an honest description of the hurt, heartache, injustice, loss, anger, confusion, or sorrow you’ve experienced.

Questions for reflection and response

What specifically do you need to express to God?
What language might help you describe what you are feeling? Many Psalms of lament use metaphors like drowning, burdened, unending darkness, emptiness, crashing waves...

Possible starting points

I am so frustrated that…
I am hurt that this did not happen for me…

 

4. Petition

State what you want or feel like you need; ask God to act or respond.

Questions for reflection and response

What is your deepest desire from God?
What do you want for your specific life situation right now?
How do you desire your relationship with your mother or children to change?

Possible starting points

God, please intervene and…
Lord, change this…
Look at me and answer, Lord…

 

5. Expression of Trust

State what you hope is possible. State your trust in God (or your desire to trust). Name your gratitude for God's Goodness.

Questions for reflection and response

Is there something you can look back on in which you experienced the presence of God’s love in your life?
What attribute of God can you thank God for at this moment?
Is there an aspect of your relationship with your mother or child that you can be grateful for?
What does it look like for you to express your hope in God for transformation in your mother-child relationship?

Possible starting points

Even still, I trust you God…
God, I thank you that…
Yet I will praise God, because…

References:

“Writing Your Own Lament” - Jenna Perrine
“How Do I Express My Sorrow?” - Rebuild Leader’s Guide Session 8
Psalm 13

 

Examples

For the loss of a child:

God I come to you broken hearted, again.
You are my Refuge when I can’t find a shelter from my pain.
Lord, the loss of my child feels so immense and lonely.
My hurt and ache have no words adequate to hold or contain the grief.
Lord, meet me in my tears, my pain, my uncertainty this side of heaven no matter how long it has been.
Help me to remember your love and presence is always waiting for me.
Meet me here in the silence, in my place of no words.
Help me seek peace in the midst until that promised day when all things sad come untrue and we are greeted by You holding our sons and daughters.

For the loss of a mom:

Heavenly Father, missing my mom is painful!
My heart is broken and filled with longing for her presence. It's hardest when I want to celebrate a special event with her, or questions arise that I didn’t get to ask before she was gone, or when I want her input on a difficult decision.
Lord, I need your comfort. When I’m faced with the emptiness that comes with her absence, please meet me there.
I pour out my longing and choose to lean on you because in my weakness, you are strong. You carry my sadness with me and, for that, I am eternally grateful.
I trust in your goodness, even while I ache for a different reality. Thank you for your love and your grace, even when I fail to see it in my mourning.

For the longing for a child:

God, why would you put this on my heart so strongly if You did not want this for me? I am ready. Now. Why do You keep me waiting?

I am angry with You for making me wait, it’s not fair. I am angry at my body for failing me. I am exhausted by temperature checks, test strips, tracking, and doctors’ visits. I am sad for my marriage as this has turned love into a chore. I am utterly devastated every time I think I might be pregnant only for the crimson enemy to visit again. I am fearful as the months go by that it will never happen for me or if/when it finally does that I will be too old. I am filled with a jealous ache deep in my empty womb with every joy filled “I’m pregnant” that I hear. I am embarrassed and hurt every time someone asks me if I plan to have children. I am filled with longing every time I come across tiny shoes, little bows, and soft blankets. I dream of baby smells, snuggles and giggles; of child filled holidays, celebrations and new traditions.

Lord, I long for a family, for a baby of my own. Please fill my heart and home with the sound of little feet and laughter. Please give me the strength and patience to live in your timing and not mine. Please heal my body and make it fruitful. Lord, no matter what, please rid my heart of bitterness and replace it with Your joy and hope.

Even still, I trust you God. You wouldn’t put this so heavily on my heart if You did not desire it for me. It just might not look the way I imagined or hoped. Lord, no matter what, I know that everything is in Your timing, in Your way and in Your hands. I trust in You, for You have gone before me.

For a difficult relationship:

Lord, you are an ever-present help in times of trouble. You provide for all my needs physical, spiritual and emotional. It is your emotional provision I need today.

As others are gushing about their wonderful mothers today, I cannot with honesty do the same.
I am alone at sea, tossed about by the waves of disappointment, sorrow, and missing experiences with my mother.
Why am I left without a supportive mom?
Why have I lived as a second-class member of my own family?
Why must I be with a gaping hole of missing love, connection, and protection?

Lord of love and comfort, please be near me today.
Shelter me beneath your wings and keep me safe.

Grounded in your love O Lord, I can face the day.
Wrapped in your firm embrace I can live as the one you created me to be.
For you are near, and you are love.

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