Mother’s Day is accompanied by hand-made cards, flowers and gifts. But for some, Mother’s Day is a reminder of loss. International Bereaved Mother’s Day was created to honor mothers who have lost a child.
In the United States, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. Founded by Anna Jarvis, in honor of her own bereaved mother, it’s a day we celebrate the mothers in our lives and thank them for their unending love and care.
But for one in four women, Mother’s Day stings. In fact, it not only stings, it cuts like a hot knife. Those women are ones who are mothers, and yet, their children have died, and they are left in the very tragic and awkward position of a very different life of motherhood.
My sweet friend Carly Marie Dudley is one such mother. Her beautiful son Christian was born still on January 25, 2007. Christian had hydrocephalus while growing inside his mother, and when he was born into his father’s arms, Carly says she remembers very vividly pledging to live for him, to carry him with her wherever she went. I found Carly after my own son died in November, 2009.
After Christian died, Carly began to create beautiful images with children’s names in the sand as a way to honor him, and all other beloved children gone too soon. In 2010, Carly felt drawn to create a day for mothers who had hurting hearts on Mother’s Day. It is because of her that International Bereaved Mother’s Day was created, and it is a day to support and celebrate mothers who have lost their babies.
Carly says she wanted to create the day to be a temporary movement, as her hope is that with more awareness and recognition of the tragic prevalence of child loss, there will be no need to set apart a special day, and in Carly’s words, “All true mothers will be recognized, loved, supported and celebrated.”
Her efforts have always been to honor her son by trying to break down the taboo walls and silence that surround baby loss, and if you are one of the mothers whose lives have forever been changed, you know this effort is so needed and appreciated.
This year, International Bereaved Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 7, 2017. While different years’ honorings have offered different projects for mothers to participate in, this year is truly an incredible collaboration. Carly has created a touching project that involves over 200 women worldwide. It’s a movement she hopes will flood social media with what she calls, ‘Mother Hearts,’ and has compiled a special short film titled, “We Carry Them In Our Hearts,’ that will debut on May 7th.
Carly hopes the film will give the world a greater glimpse into the everyday life of the bereaved mother, with hundreds of bereaved mothers from all over the world sharing pictures of themselves. I’ve seen some of the pictures, and they are beautiful examples of the love and longing mothers have in their hearts.
To learn more about International Bereaved Mother’s Day, you can visit Carly’s webpage and see previous years’ work. If you’d like to see some of the beautiful artwork Carley does in honor of children everywhere, you can see her Seashore of Remembrance.