Forgiving My Mother For Not Accepting My Loss

March 23, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone
March 23, 2017
Updated: November 30, 2018

pc: Ancient Faith Ministries

She told me that she was not ready to be a grandmother. This, I realized, was not my burden to carry, but hers. Not all mothers are able to sympathize with mothers of loss. I couldn't share this part of my life with her - and that's hard.

In the early few weeks of pregnancy, I had painful implantation cramps. So painful that it made me cry. They came and went throughout the day and lasted for about a little over a week. I called my mom - crying voice and all - nervous to tell her the news of my pregnancy.

She asked me if I was crying because I was pregnant. I half-laughed, "No!" I asked if she felt a similar pain during early pregnancy, which turns out that she didn't. I thought that my pain was abnormal and wasn't sure on what to do about it.

What she didn't do was congratulate me - something that I was waiting to hear. 

Just the typical:

"Do you think you are ready to take care of a baby?"

"Do you have a job?"

My answer:

"No, but I will be ready (I HAVE TO BE)."

"No, but I will have a job."

She wasn't happy, more like worried, which was completely understandable. She wanted to make sure that I was doing okay before I could bring new life into the world, moreover, safe and responsible. 

As weeks began to pass, she was more welcoming of the pregnancy. She would share tips and advice, even on labor and delivery, which was months before my time. She would ask how I was feeling or doing. She was concerned if I didn't eat.

I remember telling her that I was looking for a job, I was about to graduate from college. She said, "Who would hire you? You're pregnant. You have to stay home." 

This brought me disappointment - I wanted her to know that I was willing to do anything to take care of my child and was responsible and serious about my life. I wanted to tell her that I desired to become pregnant for some time. Later, at five months pregnant, I went in for a job interview, trying my best to hide my belly. Not too long after, we had our gender reveal and then lost our baby. 

My mother was the first person I called the morning after I was admitted into the hospital. I told her that we were having a boy, but also that there was a huge possibility that we were going to lose him. This news didn't seem to bother her, she was busy discussing her personal life (to distract me, mostly to distract herself from the discomfort). It was like she didn't know what to say, not even prayers or a "I'm sorry to hear that." 

My sister FaceTimed her during my first nights at the hospital, so that she could still be a part of what was going on. Yet, she never showed any signs of worry like she had the day I told her I was pregnant. 

The day after labor and delivery, again, she wasn't bothered with the fact that I had just went through something traumatic. Still, she couldn't say that she was "sorry." Instead, she was optimistic about my future; my present meant absolutely nothing to her. She didn't ask if I named our baby and started blurting out the importance of postpartum care, such as what to do about sore breasts/milk production, drinking herbs to heal the uterus, not wearing make-up or "dressing up" after birth.

In a way, she was trying to help me, but ignored the real thing. 

I decided to ignore her phone calls; I couldn't bear hearing how happy she was that I was no longer having a baby and able to "do more with my life."

I sent her our family photo; an image of my three-some of a family, us holding our little boy. I wanted her to feel my pain, to acknowledge my child as her grandson, and visually see how tragic and real this really was. The photo put a break to our relationship and we broke contact for about 8 months. Within those months, she never said anything to me, not even a "Happy Birthday," since my 24th birthday was five months after loss.

My younger sister overheard her speaking with my aunt, questioning why I would cry over my loss. It made it very clear that she was not only confused, but insensitive and had little emotional comfort to offer.

Also, I received the job that I applied for a month after Elijah's death. I still wonder how it would have been like if I had the job - while pregnant. 

Just recently, mid March, my grandmother's decline in health called for family gathering. I had to fly to visit not only my ill grandmother and other family members, but also facing my mother after 8 months of silence.

She was happy and excited that her eldest daughter - who after years of not seeing - was coming home. She tried her best to impress me, giving a very warm welcome. Still, I heard little to no sorrow in her voice. I searched for signs of guilt, worry, pain, but there was nothing. I hid my disappointment.

After a long while, she asked how I was feeling and if my body was "back to normal." It didn't sound sincere; it was just the "right" thing to do after the whole miscommunication. I told her that I was okay and "yes it is."

Within seconds of asking if she wanted to see Elijah's picture, she said no. Her gaze lowered and she replied with, "It makes me sad." 

I asked her, "Why, he's cute!"

I wanted to show her my pride and joy, and that I thought he was beautiful. I was willing to share my story in person, which didn't happen very often. But that was the end of it; she was too uncomfortable. She made me feel as though he didn't matter to her, that either he was too much to talk about or that he was not important. Refusing to look at Elijah was like refusing to face the reality of loss, she was safer in being in denial.

To me, it was like he was a nobody - and that hurt.

On the plane ride home, I realized that this was the way that she dealt with "her grief." Being blind about my loss was her way in dealing with it; it was just too painful for her. I had to accept that my mother has never been comfortable with revealing her emotions, nor emotionally available, even when I was a child. She was and has always been "the disciplinarian."

The only thing I could do was to be grateful for those who have acknowledged my pain and allowed the space to grieve - alone and openly.

Deeply, I looked into my mother and myself; I realized that I am much more stronger. I am able to face such a loss, accept it, share it, love myself through it, and live another day. If she had experienced my loss, it would tear her apart, worse than it had me, simply because I was willing to be vulnerable.

I will always love my mother, she was the one who birth me in the very same way that I had birthed my son. In her own time, she will see that. And I forgive her.

With love,

* Read the full story about Elijah:

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