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Grieving for absent mothers on Mother's Day

Jess Barlow, 23rd Mar 2017
Tags: Life Blog Absent parents Eating disorder Father God Grief Jesus Mental health

Mother's Day is just around the corner. It's this time of year that makes me sympathise with all the motherless sons and daughters in this world. Those who walk into shops and cry at the sight of the perfect Mother's Day gifts. Those who scroll through Instagram and envy those with perfect families. The ones who just want to curl up and hibernate on this day of celebration.

I don't just mean those who have tragically lost their mother through death or physical illness. Don't get me wrong, I cannot imagine the pain such a loss must cause, because I've never been through that personally. I'm also referring to those who have lost their mother through mental illness, through abuse, or through painful personal circumstances. 

Someone writing love me

Those whose mothers are absent have to work through a devastating grieving process.

Just as with death, those whose mothers are still alive physically, but absent for whatever reason, also have to work through a devastating grieving process.

Grieving involves anger at what has been done to you; then the suffocating depression of losing the very person who brought you into this world; then the guilt, heartache and loneliness.

Those like me, who although their mother is still alive, have absolutely no contact with them; no mobile numbers, no social media accounts, nothing. Just an emptiness in your heart that you long to fill. 

Sad girl with her head down

My heart goes out to each and every person who has to live with this daily battle. That is why I felt so strongly that I needed to write this blog. Because if my experience can help just one person who is going through a similar situation, then my role is fulfilled.

A few years ago I entered a residential programme to gain help and freedom from a life controlling eating disorder and various mental health illnesses. It was only through counselling and digging deeper than the surface issues, that I had the realisation that my relationship with my mother was controlling my life. 

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I had two years of counselling, one to one sessions, weekly reviews, doctor's appointments and medication. I found freedom from my eating disorder, my self-destructive behaviours and my panic attacks. 

I thought I had dealt with all the root issues, deeply entangled from my childhood.

I thought I had dealt with all the root issues, deeply entangled from my childhood. It was only this week that I realised that my longing for a mother still has a negative impact on my life.

I was chatting to my pastor, who has been through the journey to freedom with me. I had been pushing her away lately and had been quite horrible to her, but I didn't really know why. I didn't know what was causing me to act in such a strong way. 

It was only through chatting to her that I had the revelation that my reactions aren't just me being an angry person, but that it's me having such deep rooted hurt that the littlest thing caused a strong emotional outburst. 

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She told me she cared about me and a tear rolled down my cheek, "But my own mother doesn't even care so why would anyone else?" And with that, years of emotion and hurt came flooding out of me. I cried and cried and sobbed and cried some more. 

It's not that I've never had this thought before. It's not that it's never crossed my mind. It's a thought I have several times a day. The difference was, I had never said it out loud. I had never shared it with anyone in my life before and I believe this is where my healing began. 

Find someone you trust and speak out loud the thoughts that control your mind.

I would encourage anyone who is struggling in a similar way to me, to find someone you trust and to speak out loud the thoughts that control your mind. It sounds cliché, but it honestly is a power tool in your journey to healing.

After this conversation, I went for a walk and a blog I read some months ago crossed my mind. It was about God not only being a Father to the fatherless, but a Mother to the motherless.

Person walking on a bridge

I've read the scripture hundreds of times about God being a Father to the fatherless, but it had never crossed my mind that he could also be a Mother to the motherless. I mean, think about it, God is often referred to as a male and the Bible calls Him 'he' and we call him 'our Father.' So how could we compare him to a mother? 

The blogger writes about how God is compared to a mother numerous times throughout the Bible! And this revelation is something I have clung to in my darkest hours.

Later that evening, I was reading my Bible and Isaiah 49:15 jumped out at me and struck something inside of me. It says this:

"But even if mothers forget, I'd never forget you - never. Look, I've written your names on the backs of my hands. The walls you're rebuilding are never out of my sight."

God loves us more than our earthly parents ever could.

Gosh! It made me realise that even the Bible refers to motherless children, but God has his hand all over us. He will never forget us! His love is unconditional! He loves us more than our earthly parents ever could! He is a mother to the motherless! 

If you're not a Christian, I am not trying to push Jesus in your face! I understand 100% that everyone has different beliefs, but what I will say is this, without Jesus, without the Bible, without the unconditional love I am reminded of daily, I do not know how I would fight this battle. I do not know how I would even begin to fill the hole that is empty in my heart. To cover my longing for a mother's love in complete peace. 

Books and bible open on a chair

And it's not easy! I have days where I lie in bed crying because all I long for is a mother's hug, but without speaking out loud my thoughts with someone I trust, without believing I have a Mother in my Heavenly Father, without filling myself with scriptures and digger deeper than the surface issues and working on myself, I honestly could not do this fight. 

So if you take anything away from reading this blog let it be this: you may not have a mother on earth, but you will always have one in heaven who loves you no matter what and take comfort in that thought every day.

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