Yesterday I learned of International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which is observed annually on the Sunday before Mother’s Day. I grew more so I began my research. This day of observance was started in 2010 by a mom whose baby was stillborn. Coincidentally, this is also the same year that my infant daughter, Faith, passed away so I was quite surprised that I’d never heard of this before.
It was created to acknowledge mothers who have the unfortunate experience of losing of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other means. I truly understand and respect the intent, but I have mixed feelings. Initially it triggered sad emotions and thoughts of her, but I’ve been accused of being emotional so maybe it’s just me. I anticipate having similar feelings next week on Mother’s Day so I’m not sure if I welcome the thought of triggering sad emotions two weekends in a row. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, but Mother’s Day is already a reminder so I’m not sure of my feelings of International Bereaved Mother’s Day.
I have family, friends, and former colleagues mourn the loss of their children so maybe it’s a day better suited for them and others. What I am sure of, however, is that people oftentimes find it difficult to communicate with moms when the topic comes up. Here are my top three tips that I trust are helpful when interacting with bereaved moms:
1. Let her grieve she needs
Please don’t ever tell her that she should get over grieving her child or when you think she should no longer grieve. It doesn’t matter how long it has been. It doesn’t matter how old the child was when they passed away nor does it matter how the child passed away – he/she is her child. Grief doesn’t have a timeline. There will be good days and there will be bad days.
2. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all
Say nothing if you don’t know what to say, especially if you have no idea of what it feels like to lose a child. Saying that you understand what we’re going through or have gone through will truly annoy and irritate us if you’ve never walked in our shoes.
3. It’s OK to just listen
Just listening to a bereaved mother can assist with the healing process. Some people behave as though they must have an answer or response for everything, but it may be best to remain quiet. Listening is just as good. Sometimes all that’s needed is an open and loving ear to listen.