Losing a child is an unfathomable pain for any parent to grasp unless they have experienced the heartache themselves. So, it is normal to feel at a loss to know how to properly support a loved one whose child has died. Especially when it feels like the whole world is celebrating holidays like Mother’s Day.
Whether they are a baby, toddler, teenager, or adult child, the loss of a person you nurtured, cared for, and loved with all your heart is a profoundly altering experience.
Mother’s Day is when we, as a society, celebrate the joys and challenges of motherhood, in all its forms. The pain of being without the person who made you a mother is magnified, but it can also be a day for friends and family to rally and remember the good times.
It can feel easier for those surrounding a grieving mother to stay silent on Mother’s Day, because they aren’t sure that their words or support will be welcome or well-received. But it can also be a day to reach out and remind your grieving friend that they are remembered, held in your heart, and supported.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few things you can do to support a grieving mother this Mother’s Day.
If you don’t feel comfortable visiting or talking to your friend in person, but still want to show your love and support, you can send her a card. Keep the message short and sweet, unless you have a lot to say. Acknowledge that Mother’s Day will be a tough day but that you are thinking of her and are there if she needs to talk.
Head to a quiet corner of your home and call your friend. Tell her you are thinking of her on what must be a difficult day and ask if she needs to talk or wants to reminisce about her child. If she’s not comfortable with that, you can just have a general chat about whatever’s happening in your lives. Just remind her that she is loved and appreciated and not forgotten.
If she’s a flower person, it might be a nice idea to send her a bunch for Mother’s Day. Especially since she might be missing out this year, even though she is still a mother to a very important person. Include a note with a few kind words to show her that she is not alone.
Don’t shy away from mentioning the name of the child who has died. It can feel like you’re overstepping an invisible boundary at times, but loved ones want to hear their child’s name to remind them that they are still loved, remembered, and missed.
The Tim Griffith Foundation offers separate Meadowlark Retreats for mothers and fathers who are grieving the loss of a child. Check back for this year's retreat dates.