Mother’s Day changes when you’ve lost a baby. A day that was once filled with so much celebration and hope has been shadowed with grief, pain, and perhaps feelings of isolation. It’s not that you dislike the holiday or all that it signifies–it’s simply that someone very special is missing and motherhood has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning.

Brave mama, please hear me when I say this. Though it may not always seem true, this is your day too. Whether the sentimental greeting cards and commercials featuring smiling women and cooing babies fill your heart with hope, despair, or a combination of both, this day is for you.

To the mamas who have said goodbye to a baby of any age or gestation: You are an incredible mother. You have been handed the sacred and immensely extraordinary task of mothering a child you can no longer hold. You are among the those who have been chosen to experience a love stronger than death. You have the privilege of having known someone so small, yet so important. You keep moving forward day by day, all the while keeping your baby’s memory and legacy alive. Even when no one says your baby’s name, this is your day too.

To the mamas whose arms feel empty: you matter. While the world may not see your motherhood, I do. I see the way motherhood has seeped into every corner of your heart and mind. While your home or the backseat of your vehicle may not show any evidence of children, I see the ways your baby has changed every part of your daily life and has made you into a beautiful mother. You matter and this is your day too.

To the mamas who hold children in their arms, all while feeling the absence of the baby they lost: you are doing an amazing job. While you may feel inadequate, you are a shining example of love and strength to your living children. Your love for them does not diminish the love for the baby you lost, nor does your grief for the baby you lost diminish the joy you have over those in your arms. You are brave and this is your day too.

Rather than seeing Mother’s Day merely as a day of despair, I hope you and I will be able to celebrate our title of bereaved mothers (even if there are plenty of tears–crying is still brave). This year, let’s link arms and take time to honor the women who have had a positive, nurturing influence–our own amazing mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and mentors. And may we stand in amazement when we recognize that we, too, stand among that influential bunch.

This is your day too.

Brave Mamas–as we approach Mother’s Day, Forever Footprints would like to honor you at the annual Nurture to Remember event, Tuesday, May 8. Come join other loss moms for a day of connection and healing. For more information or to register, visit http://www.foreverfootprints.org/remembrance/events/oc-nurture-to-remember/.

Kristin Hernandez lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and Kristin Hernandeztheir Queensland Heeler mix, Dakota. After struggling with unexplained infertility for several years, Kristin was thrilled when she became pregnant with Ethan. The celebration quickly turned to concern when doctors discovered Ethan had a serious heart defect and was missing a piece of his brain–likely indicative of a chromosome abnormality. Ethan was born on August 16, 2015 and spent his 93-minute life in his parents’ arms. Kristin is now a mother to five babies in heaven, including four of Ethan’s younger siblings who she has never met. Despite these struggles, Kristin has resolved to embrace the life she has been given and to leave a legacy for her family. Kristin works in communications by day, but can also be found running, camping, writing or having a conversation over a cup of coffee. She writes at www.sunlightindecember.com and is the cohost of the Through the Lens Podcast.

Top photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash,