#griefhasnorules – mother’s day mourning

Mother’s Day. I could feel it coming this week but didn’t have a lot of time to let the magnitude kick in too early. I’ve been busy with The Refuge in-a-pandemic and our non-profit, #communityheals, and how to start our #waterheals and #beautyheals seasons in the middle of Coronavirus crazy. While our whole world’s been rocked since last fall, the entire world’s now turned upside down to boot. I’ve been trying to survive one day at a time, adjusting to the reality that each and every day my entire system is rocked with the fact that our son really, truly died. It’s the strangest feeling; I can be present in one moment, doing halfway okay, and then a shockwave whirls through and the hard, cold reality that Jared is really gone from this earth rocks me to my core. 

It’s hard on the soul. 

20 times a day is a lot of soul rocking each and every day.  

But 6 ½ months in, I’m practicing how to roll with these waves of unbearable grief and reality and honor the strangeness of being tangled up with so much good in our lives at the same time. It’s really confusing. 

But I know that grieving and living at the same time isn’t just something we’re doing. 

The whole world’s been doing it since the beginning of time.

Grieving, living.

They are tied together.

They’re part of the human experience.

They’re also a part of life I don’t want to be part of my life.

I don’t want this to be my story, our family’s story.  

But it is.

Even though I’ve written about Mother’s Day being hard many times over the years, it’s never, ever been a hard day for me until this year. Yet, I know so many dread it for all kinds of reasons, and now I know why.

We have:

Moms and grandmothers and great grandmothers and sisters who died.  

Moms who neglected, ignored, abandoned emotionally. 

Broken dreams of being a mom a certain way.

Moms whose babies’ life on earth never came to be.

Kids who left this earth far too soon.

Kids who are estranged, struggling, jailed, addicted, all kinds of things that break a mama’s heart.

Moms who “love the sinner but hate the sin.”

Moms who are feeling good and want to enjoy the day in freedom but feel that hesitation and wonder if that’s okay anymore. 

The loneliness of not having a partner. 

Shame, because it finds its way into almost any holiday it can. 

This year add yet another brutal story of a black son of a grieving mother and another painful hashtag and our broken hearts over our destructive systems that continue to ruin so many.

The list is long.

Mother’s Day is so hard for so many.

The ache is so real. There are lots of ways to mother.

And the world sure does need more mothering right now

Now, more than ever.

Today, I just want to say to those of you who are barely breathing, who can’t believe it’s another year of suffering through all the weirdness this day brings, who are grieving fresh losses and remembering old ones, who are alone in this pandemic, who are broken over the pain of this world and just.can’t.right.now, who are mourning losses from every direction—grief has no rules.

Grief has no rules.

Do whatever the hell you need to make it through.

Do whatever you need to make it through. 

This week I surfed behind our boat a couple of times. 

In the middle of a pandemic.

In the wake of a heart-breaking news cycle and more young lives lost to the ravages of racism. 

In the swirl of the painful reality that so many people are suffering.

And yeah, my privileged self was out on a boat with the Colorado rocky mountains behind me.

I smiled and laughed and surfed the shit out of that wave. 

I felt free.

I forgot my grief for just a brief moment. 

It was so healing.

And what my broken heart really needs right now. 

People, grief has no rules.

We’ve got to do whatever we need to make it through whatever grief you’re wading through that doesn’t harm ourselves or others.

It’s hard to own our own story and feel what we need to feel the way we need to feel it. 

The world has ideas of the way grief should be. 

We have internalized ideas of the way our own grief should be. 

The shoulds will get all of us on this one.

I am learning in new ways how there are truly are no shoulds when it comes to grief.


Grief has no rules.

For me–in ways people probably don’t understand–it helps to write on this strange and surreal morning, feeling feelings I hoped I’d never feel. It helped me to cry with my four living children today and for them to hold my pain and recognize how conflicting it all feels. Gratitude for what I have. Heart-breaking grief for what I’ve lost, what we’ve lost together. 

Love hurts.

And I was reminded yesterday of a Rumi poem I put in Practicing in the chapter called The Practice of Loving: “Love is the mother. We are her children.”

Love is the mother.

We are her children. 

As I wrote this last line, I just heard my 20 year-old son downstairs say to my husband, “And in the words of Kathy Escobar, go wash your hands” after he finished a project.

It made me laugh through the tears.

Yeah, grief has no rules. 

Love from Colorado this Mother’s Day. It helps to not be alone in the mourning, the living.


Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Thank you for this Kathy! I have lived through grief and know that it never really goes away, it just fits into a part of your heart that remembers and laments and smiles and laughs at the memories. You and Jose and Josh, Julia, Jama and Jonas continue to be in my prayers. Love to you this Mother’s Day!


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