DEAR KRISTIN: My mom died three months ago. My grief is so deep I can barely breathe. I am also a new mother. My beautiful baby girl will never know her grandmother. It feels like my mom’s death has severed our family chain. How will I face this first Mother’s Day without Mom? I’m happy beyond measure to welcome my baby girl into the world, but heartbroken that my mom is not here to meet her and to love her. How do I navigate all of this? -- HEARTBROKEN
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: My deepest condolences, Beloved, on the loss of your mother, but also, my warmest congratulations on the birth of your baby girl. The very fact that I can offer condolences and congratulations in the same breath -- and actually feel both emotions, in equal measure, from the deepest depths of my heart -- is proof positive that we are capable of experiencing polar opposite emotions at the same time: Joy and grief can exist simultaneously. You must try to honor both.
Stand in the solid center of your grief. Do not shirk from it or wish it away. The depth of your grief is beautifully commensurate with the depth of your love for your mom. You miss her. Tell her that.
Consider writing a letter to your mom and reading it out loud to her on Mother’s Day. Use your written words to introduce your baby girl to her grandmother. Hold your child close as you read; let her feel and hear the power of your words.
On this first Mother’s Day without Mom, be gentle with yourself. Wrap your daughter in lots of warm embraces. Touch her tiny fingers. Feel her little pulse and rest easy in the knowledge that your shared blood, and your mother’s shared blood, is running through her little veins. This is an ancestral bond that creates a connection that can never be broken, not even in death.
When my own mother died, my entire world stopped. And just like you, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl shortly thereafter who never had the chance to meet her grandmother. But guess what? My daughter knows her grandmother.
She knows her through me, because I talk about her all the time. I share memories, photos and life lessons. In this way, we ensure that motherhood itself remains a living legacy. Your daughter will know her grandmother if you help create the living link.
I’m not minimizing your pain, Beloved. Mother’s Day without Mother -- heck, living life without Mother -- is heartbreakingly difficult, especially when the separation is fresh and new.
But believe me when I tell you that your family chain has not been “severed.” A beautiful new link has been added to it, in the form of your daughter.
Stand in the solid center of that unbreakable link on Mother’s Day, and let your tears of gratitude, grace and yes, even sadness, flow freely.