The seven sorrows of Mary are seven events in the gospels which brought Mary great sorrow. It can be very easy to think that because she was the mother of God, Mary had a pretty easy and happy life, but in reality it was a difficult life laced with many sorrows. The family was very poor and was constantly harassed and persecuted. This should be a source of consolation and encouragement for everyone. When things don't necessarily go smoothly, or there are trials in life, remember that even God's family had these same problems, and that they worked through them with patience. The feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows is September 15.
Prophecy of Simeon
The presentation of Jesus in the temple should have been a joyous time because it was the offering of the firstborn to God, giving God glory and thanks for His gift. Instead, Simeon prophesied that Mary's life would be full of sorrows, and that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction. This is not something any mother wants to hear. Just forty days after the birth of her miraculous son, Mary must have experienced much sorrow upon hearing that her life would be one of great difficulty and that her divine son would be persecuted.
Flight into Egypt
There can be few things more heartbreaking for a mother than to have another person want to kill your son, and yet this is the position Mary found herself in. She had to leave her homeland and become a refugee in a foreign country so as to protect the life of her son. It must have also been very difficult to realize that there were so many other mothers who did lose their sons on account of Herod's desire to extinguish the life of her own divine son. Within just a short time of Simeon's prophecy, it is already being realized.
Loss of Jesus in the Temple
Every parent's greatest worry is that they will lose their son or daughter in a crowd and not be able to find them again. This is exactly what happened to Mary and Joseph. After celebrating the passover, they lost track of Jesus and could not find him for three days. Those days they must have been frantic with worry and hope that he was okay. Eventually they found Him in the temple, but that period must have been a time of great sorrow and anxiety for Mary, as she no doubt constantly thought of the terrible things that could have befallen him.
Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the way to Calvary
The prophecy of Simeon is realized to its fullest extent in this sorrowful meeting. Mary sees her divine son tortured, mistreated and on his way to death. She knew that her son was special, and from God, and yet the people treated him as a common criminal and one worthy of death. He had been trying to teach them the way to Heaven, and they responded with crucifixion. Seeing Jesus in person at this time is the epitome of human suffering.
Despite the immense amount of suffering and sorrow she must have experienced seeing her son killed, Mary stood at the foot of the cross and prayed with Jesus for the salvation of the world. Jesus demonstrates His great love for the world on the cross, but Mary also demonstrates her immense love for God and the world by standing at the foot of the cross. She is the perfect example of submission to the will of God, even at great cost and sorrow to oneself.
Taking down of Jesus' body from the Cross
Mary would have been present when Jesus' dead body was taken down from the cross. She probably received it and held it, sorrowing over the atrocities which had been committed and which caused this ultimate sacrifice. She had given birth to this child, and now she saw Him die a cruel and unnatural death. She again held Him in her arms, but this time He was dead and lifeless, sacrificed for the sins of the world.
This is the last sorrow of Mary. Without knowing fully about the joy of the Resurrection, this event would have seemed very final. Jesus was dead, presumably forever, and was laid in the tomb. She would never see her son alive again. She would live out the rest of her days among the very people who had killed her beloved son. The finality of burial in the ground hits people very hard, as they realize they will never see their loved one again.