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By Deacon Roger Carr-Jones, Marriage & Family Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Westminster

Mothering Sunday is a multi-layered celebration, which ranges from gratitude for the grace of baptism (the ancient tradition of visiting your baptismal church), appreciation for the gift of motherhood, through to bittersweet memories of loss. This sense of loss encompasses the death of our mother and solidarity with mothers who have experienced and continue to endure the tremendous loss of their child. It is therefore always a poignant celebration of life and of loss, a reminder that real love comes at a price, but that it is the love that always prevails.

Mothering Sunday is an opportunity to let memories bubble to the surface, so that the Holy Spirit can help to make the past present and real, and where necessary open the way to healing and consolation. Memories are always being added to. The benefit of recreating the scene of memory, not least when it is difficult, is the opportunity to see things from a new angle through the eyes of faith. What might the Spirit want us to notice this year in relation to our baptism, experience of motherhood and the connection to those who have been a mother to us, by flesh or action?

Mothers store up many special moments in journeying with their child from conception, many of which are openly shared and others, so personal, are held in the depths of their being. My words are inadequate to express the emotional and mental anguish experienced by the loss of a baby through miscarriage and stillbirth, and of a child. For the mother though, the bond with their ‘little one’ is always held in the present moment, always a living memory.

Mothering Sunday can be beautiful and difficult at the same time. My mother passed away a month before Mothering Sunday, and this year the memory resurfaced. I now know that this means the Holy Spirit is inviting me to notice something that I need to see. Of course, we have the choice to place a memory back on the shelf, especially if it is bitter-sweet or painful. Yet, if we ask to reencounter the whole situation through the eyes of the Spirit something changes. If we opt to revisit the memory then there is nothing to fear. Indeed, there will be the gift of consolation and new insights given. Is there a memory associated with motherhood or our mother that now needs rekindling or possibly healing? Allow the memory to be freed. 

Mothers have the gift of carrying new life and never forget that sense of intimacy and connectedness to a young life, not least where there is loss. Each life is a part of the family, each of equal value and each held in the heart of the mother. The government’s recent decision to allow  the option for parents to be given baby loss certificates, where they have lost their baby before their pregnancy had reached 24 weeks' gestation, is a precious gift. It recognises what the parents know intimately the untranslatable grief of loss and the innate dignity of the child in the womb.  

Mothering Sunday is a time for gratitude, reflection and healing. It is also an opportunity open to us all to make a pilgrimage of the heart to our ‘Mother Church’, either in the imagination or in person. In touching the font where we received the gift of baptism, where the beginning of our new life in Christ began, we can share from the heart.  In my imagination, I am returning to the church of baptism, seeking to rest in the water of life and in so doing seeking a moment's consolation and healing.

If you have lost a baby, need someone to talk to or support,  contact 

Photo:  Baptismal font at the Servite Church, London (Mazur/