I never knew there was such a thing as Bereaved Mother’s Day until last month, when I lost my first child before he was even born.
I had searched for any online groups and pages dedicated to losing a child, clinging on to any reminder that I wasn’t alone in this horrible situation, and that I would someday try again.
Eventually I stumbled upon this little-known remembrance day.
Although May 1st, Bereaved Mother’s Day, is not an official holiday, one thing is for certain. With or without a holiday, mothers will never forget the loss of a child, and it can be especially painful around a major holiday — Mother’s Day — that focuses on mothers of living children.
Mothers of angel babies and children, as well as experts, provide some useful coping tips to help during this difficult time:
1) Talk about your deceased children.
Talking about your deceased children and having others remember them can actually be helpful. “It can be particularly difficult to observe Mother's Day when you have no living children, and your losses are glossed over by family or friends,” said Julie Bindeman, a psychologist and bereaved mother.
2) Use objects to honor your lost children.
Using objects such as jewelry with a birthstone or a picture can help you to honor your lost children, Bindeman said.
3) Ask for what you need.
It’s important to ask others for what you need, especially while grieving during the loss of a child, Bindeman said. Women may expect for their emotional needs to be met without communicating to others what is actually needed, which can lead to sadness and frustration.
4) Experience the wide range of emotions that come with holidays and special events.
Special events and holidays may trigger a wide and intense range of emotions. Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic, urges you not to tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel any intense emotions.
“Though grief can reduce with time, it can roll in like a tidal wave on these meaningful days,” said Krawiec.
5) Give family and friends a heads up.
Let them know that you’re going through some intense feelings around holidays like Mother’s Day, and if needed suggest that they give you more space or be accepting of the emotions you may be expressing at this time, Krawiec added.
6) Create your own type of Mother’s Day in honor of your angel baby or child.
This doesn’t even have to land on Mother’s Day, and you can do something as simple as reading a passage in a book that speaks to your situation, or light a candle and write a journal entry expressing your thoughts during this time, Krawiec said.
7) Give yourself time
Make sure to give yourself time for self-care, she added. This includes pampering like getting your nails done, putting your feet up and relaxing, and not doing any additional chores or errands.
8) Channel your pain and emotions.
Find a way to channel what you're going through. For example, Sheri Roaf, mother of three, used blogging as a way to deal with her pain after she lost her 17-month-old son Bennett in November, 2013.
Roaf said in an email that she tends to be reserved when it comes to sharing her feelings, except when she writes. She is able to connect with other grieving parents through writing, which helps her feel less alone, and it has become her outlet.
What are your best ways of coping with the memories of your lost child or children before, during and after Mother’s Day?
Reviewed May 4, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Bindeman, Julie. Email interview. May 3, 2016.
Krawiec, Carrie. Email interview. May 3, 2016.
Roaf, Sheri. Email interview. May 3, 2016.