Surviving Mother’s Day One Breath at a Time

What is Mother's Day like for a mom who lost her son to addiction?

Mother’s Day – those two words once brought memories of cards and flowers, crabs and beer. It’s a time when families come together in the name of celebrating motherhood. For me, this day hosted three generations laughing and loving. Our time was spent sharing the memories of childhood – teen years that morphed into adult years and changed women into mothers.

Addiction Ripped My Heart Out

Each year, we gathered at my house – grandmothers, aunts, mothers-in-law, sons and daughters celebrating the beauty of parenthood, family and love. This year, however, Mother’s Day grabs my heart and shatters it like glass; broken in too many pieces to ever be repaired.

Our once happy family has been forever changed by addiction.

Addiction claimed the life of my youngest son. Gone forever, his demons proved more powerful than a mother’s love. A family broken; a mother broken. Thinking of this once special day now brings me to my knees. The gut punches become relentless, taking my breath away in sobs that I can no longer control.

How does a grieving mother survive a holiday forged in her honor?

The Deafening Silence of Loneliness

There are no Hallmark cards for moms like me. Though I still have my own mother, sister and daughter-in-law, there is nothing happy about Mother’s Day for this mother.

How do I explain the unrelenting urge to close my eyes and disappear? How do I make people understand that my heart has shut down in an effort to protect my sanity? Mother’s Day is now a day I desperately want to forget. Along with grief, I am also drowning in guilt.

“How do I make people understand that my heart has shut down in an effort to protect my sanity? Mother’s Day is now a day I desperately want to forget. Along with grief, I am also drowning in guilt.”Mary Beth Cichocki

Mother’s Day has always been my holiday…the one day when I do for everyone else. I do the food and drinks, buy the flowers and transform my gardens into a peaceful place where all the mothers can relax. Mother’s Day is now a day I will dread forever. Though most of my friends are mothers, their children are all living. Now, rather than sharing joy for the day, I’m jealous that their children are here…and mine is not.

There’s that guilt again. How can I feel this way? What kind of mother is jealous that another mother’s child is alive?

Learning to Breathe Again

Yes, grief has changed this mother. Most days I wake and the tears fall as reality creeps into my sleeping brain. I am quickly reminded he is gone and the pain of my life begins again. I have enough trouble trying to get through a “normal” day. How will I ever make it through Mother’s Day?

Recently, a very wise mom – a mother like myself – helped me by sharing some incredible advice. “Imagine you are on a plane that’s going down; suddenly the oxygen masks drop down. Save yourself first. Place the mask on your face and breathe. Keep breathing and take care of yourself before you take care of the others,” she said.

Armed with her valuable advice, on this Mother’s Day, I will be a passenger on that plane…and I will take care of myself one breath at a time.

*Submitted by Mary Beth Cichocki

Learn More Find out how you can help an addicted loved one before it’s too late.

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