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An Unfinished Mother
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Mar 14, 2004
When child loss occurs, a mother goes through a difficult time of emotional turmoil and questioning. “Am I still a mother?” “Does my child still have a birthday each year, or does time stand still?” “Can the mother/child relationship continue to grow, or am I now an ‘unfinished mother’?”

Losing a child places a mother on a road that begins a lonelier journey than ever expected—one that can never really be explained. There was a beginning, but with the death of the child, there is no middle and no end. Everything seems so unfinished. Hopes and dreams were stopped far too soon. Joy was snatched away so suddenly. A mother is left with empty arms and an empty heart. Nothing can ever be complete when a child’s life ends.

When the death of a child occurs, a mother is stopped in her tracks, and she suddenly feels inadequate and incomplete. She wears a new name. She is an “unfinished mother”, never being able to see the rest of the picture. She will never be able to watch her child mature into a young adult. She will never be able to see all the pieces fit together. The picture will always have part of the scenery missing. It is so painful to be an unfinished mother! Child loss makes everything seem so empty and incomplete.

The reality of child loss is devastating to a mother. There are overwhelming feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and most often feelings of failure. These feelings can overwhelm a mother for several months following the death of a child, and it can be quite difficult to build a support system to carry a mother through this roller coaster of emotions. Very few people will understand a mother’s explanation of feeling like she is an unfinished mother.

There will come a critical point in this journey of grief when a mother must reach deep inside her inner resources and make a conscious decision to accept herself just as she is—a mother whose heart has been touched by the pain and grief of child loss. Only then can she start to put together some of the broken pieces and begin to feel like there will be a day when she will feel more like a complete mother than an unfinished mother.

When a child dies, life is suddenly thrown completely off balance. A mother is left feeling like her identity has been taken away. It is often a long difficult journey to find that place of identity as a mother again. It’s hard to understand that there is unfinished living that will never be completed. Peace can finally come to a mother’s heart when she realizes that there is a big difference between having unfinished business and being left feeling like an unfinished mother.

A mother is never “unfinished.” No matter how brief her time was with her child, the bond of love between mother and child was complete. A mother’s love for her child is unending. Dreams may shatter and circumstances may change, but a mother’s love remains strong. As a mother travels the path to healing, it is important for her to remind herself often that she is a mother forever. Her motherhood did not stop when her child died. This understanding of motherhood releases the feelings of guilt and failure and allows a mother to begin to see herself as a whole person again—a complete mother.

A mother is never an “unfinished mother.” A mother’s love runs far too deep to ever be called unfinished!
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