Mother's Day and Grief
There can be many shades of emotions on Mother's Day. Different paths for everyone- some lead to joy, and others lead to heartache. The gift is to be able to compassionately recognize all of these pathways and honor them.
Mother's Day is a day to celebrate a mother or mother figure. It's a day that is expected to be filled with joy and celebration, yet for many, this day brings heartache and sadness.
How can we support and acknowledge the heartache of those grieving on this day? With love, compassion and empathy.
Reach out to those suffering this Mother's Day. Let them know you are thinking about them. Acknowledge that this may be difficult, and you are there to support them.
Mother's Day can be very hard and emotional for the mothers whose children have died - regardless of the age, those struggling to become mothers, those
that are estranged or have a fragmented relationship with a mother or mother figure, those that lovingly chose adoption, and often step moms.....Obviously this is not the full list of those impacted by grief on Mother's Day.
As we know, death is such a difficult subject to broach, but so is acknowledging grief. However, when a mother is grieving the death of her child, regardless if miscarriage, stillbirth, or death at any age, remember that the simplest gestures of acknowledgement are quite meaningful.
Acknowledgement can come in many ways, such as saying the name of the child, continuing to keep in touch with the bereaved mother, regardless of how much time has passed, and its valuable to remember that a mother will never "get over the death of her child". Become willing to learn tools on how to offer support.
Remember, that in a mother's darkest hours, the gift of listening and being emotionally present, allows for the waves of grief to witnessed and walked through.
What is International Bereaved Mother's Day?
Every year, on the first Sunday in May, (May 7, 2023), International Bereaved Mother's Day was created as a way to honor mothers whose child has died. It's also a day to recognize women who cannot be a mother due to infertility or other reasons.
Why was International Bereaved Mother's Day started?
Because "one of the hardest days for many women around the world is Mother's Day". As the world is busy preparing to honor moms, thousands of women might meet his day can be with dread, despair, loneliness, and sadness.
There are places where mothers can share openly and know there are others women that understand what they are feeling. Reach out and connect with other bereaved mothers and step into the healing power of community.
Reimagine, is hosting it's 4th Annual Bereaved Mother's Day Conference on Sunday, May 7, 2023. https://letsreimagine.org/76768/4th-annual-bereaved-mothers-day-conference
Honor a bereaved mother and recognize all that she has gone through within her heart and soul.
Please share with any bereaved mom that may be willing to know more.
It's hard, and scary to know what to say or do when a mom is grieving. Of course we care, but we are often not sure what to say, and we certainly do not want to upset a grieving mother.
However, most likely, a mother would appreciate you saying her child's name, even if she cries. A mom wants to know her child has not been forgotten, especially on this day.
If you have a special memory of their child, ask the mom if you may share it with her. Even if her response if no, you were willing, and perhaps this will open the door for this opportunity in the future.
Learn to compassionately listen to the mom. Do not share another persons experience with a child's death. Let her know you value what and how she is feeling and you are willing to listen, even if there is silence.
Remember that even though a bereaved mothers child has died.....she is still a mom! Nothing will take this role away, not even death.
If the mom is receptive, please offer a heartfelt hug.
Please do not "bright side" her child's death. It is not a blessing, lesson, or for the best.
Recognize that Mother's Day may be difficult, and that you will support her how she wants to be supported.
Being willing to recognize a bereaved mother, is showing that you care about her and her child.
Have a child die, regardless of the age, is heartbreaking. As many say....it goes against the natural order of life and no one wants to be part of this club.
If we are aware, we recognize there are bereaved parents in each of our lives, and for the bereaved parents, those people that know how to be of emotional and physical support for the family, is helpful, needed and often welcomed.
In this article, a bereaved parent shares what helped them in their darkest hour:
How To Show Empathy
Empathy - it can be hard or it can be easy. I think it depends on the situation and the understanding on how to be empathetic in varying experiences.
Here are a few tips on ways to show empathy to a bereaved person:
know more about their loved one and supporting them.
Let's face it - It is not always easy to know how to support a friend that may be grieving her mom on Mother's Day.
What do we say?
How do we say it?
What if my friend cries when I say something?
What if I make my friend feel worse?
I understand this fear, as most of us haven't had any education explaining how to act, or what to say. So often, we say or do nothing at all. I can tell you from experience, this is not a way to treat a friend, especially a friend that is grieving on Mother's Day.
With this being said, learning to be the friend that reaches out to say "Im here for you and I will help support you the best I can", is powerful.
Support can mean different things for each person - so it's always good to ask if this works for them at this time.
Some ideas that may be comfortable for some grievers are:
asking if they'd like to get out of the house for coffee/lunch,
perhaps it's just being willing to share your shoulder to cry on
or it may be the simple, yet profound act, of being able to listen to how they feel, or to stories they want to share.
Check in on your friend frequently and remember, "Friends allow friends grieve the way they need to grieve".
When Mother's Day Hurts
Grieving a mother, a mother figure, being unable to become a mother, or grieving a mother relationship that was difficult, can make Mother's Day hurt.
Each of these experiences are valid, and they all deserve acknowledgement of the pain, sadness and heartache.
Grief can be confusing and complicated, and sometimes we may not even recognize that some emotions we feel on this day, actually have to do with grief.
It's important to understand that the length of time that has passed since a death or a loss, does not mean you cannot still grieve. This is especially true when ones grief has not had the opportunity to be fully witnessed and honored.
Feelings may come and go, but holidays, including Mother's Day, may bring up memories and emotions from the past. It's important to be gentle on yourself, and find a person whom you can trust to share and seek outside help to get additional support.
There are many resources that will fully recognize your grief, and can help you to find tools that will help you to feel and understand your emotions and to walk forward with the pain.