Mother’s Day is full of notions of flowers, handmade gifts, brunch, perfectly behaved children, and the Hallmark goodness of the idyllic family life. It’s a day to not only honor the moms in our lives, but to embrace our own role of motherhood. It should seem like a happy time to celebrate; however, it’s complicated as a bereaved mom.
Being a loss mom is hard, and Mother’s Day ranks up there as one of the hardest days of the year. Whether it be the loss of a child, stillbirth, miscarriage, or infertility, there are a lot of women with heavy hearts and Mother’s Day is a reminder of all the should-haves, could-haves, and would-haves. There’s no escaping the signs everywhere–from store displays, media advertisements, to community events.
I remember my first year as a loss mom was difficult and I absolutely dreaded Mother’s Day. Only six months before, my son had passed away, followed by a miscarriage a few months after. My grief was incredibly raw, and Mother’s Day was another reminder that I was a childless mom. It was hard enough trying to navigate day to day life, but holidays, particularly family-centered holidays, felt cruel. I knew in my heart that I was a mother, but to the outside world I felt I was an invisible mom. I spent the day avoiding restaurants, church, shopping, and anything else that would be a trigger. That’s been several years ago and since then I’ve been blessed with two sweet little boys and I love celebrating with my kids, but Mother’s Day will always be bittersweet, and at some point in the day there will be tears for what I’ve lost.
How does a loss mom navigate Mother’s Day? It depends on the mom and where she is on her journey. First of all, if you are going through this, I want to acknowledge that you are in fact still a mom and deserve to be recognized. If you need your space, be sure to take time for yourself. If you need support, lean on people that understand and make you feel heard. If you want to honor your child’s memory, then do something that brings joy or peace to your heart. If you have living children, it’s ok that joy and grief can coexist. After all, you are a mom, so make sure you spend some time doing things for you.
How can you be there for a loss mom on Mother’s Day? One of the biggest things you can do is acknowledge her and her journey. Even a simple text saying “thinking about you today” or sending a thoughtful card really goes a long way. One thing a bereaved mom fears is that her child will be forgotten, so remembering her baby’s name means a lot. Just being there or allowing her to express her true feelings without offering silver-lining advice or platitudes can give her the safe space she needs. And if she prefers to be alone, that is ok too. Mother’s Day can be overwhelming so she may just want to avoid the day altogether.
Today, May 7th, is called Bereaved Mother’s Day. It wasn’t until I was part of the dreaded bereaved moms club that I even knew such a day existed. Every year, it falls the Sunday before Mother’s Day to acknowledge those that have lost a child, pregnancy, or experienced infertility. While these moms should also be honored and remembered on the traditional Mother’s Day, Bereaved Mother’s Day allows us to hold space for the moms that carry a child or children in their heart.
Wishing all of you moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day, and if this day is hard for you, I hope you have a gentle day. For those moms with a heavy heart, I hope you feel loved, seen and know that you are not alone on this Mother’s Day.