Happy Mother’s Day?

What do you say to a bereaved mother on Mother’s Day?  How do you help her?  
Do you ignore it and not say anything?  Do you wish her a beautiful day?  I had a fellow employee ask me this today when we were discussing our schedules for the weekend.  I thought back to my first Mother’s Day and the pain inside my heart.  The mix of emotions.  I tried my best to remember the love, the memories and the joy that all three of my boys had brought into my life.  While my situation still blessed me with two great sons I felt this pull of wanting t run and hide while celebrating the love I shared with Tony’s brothers.  I will not begin to pretend to know how the mother who is now childless feels on Mother’s Day.  I will not begin to explain what the “best” way is to deal with the day.  I will give you tips and advice based on my experience as I approach my fourth Mother’s Day without my youngest son.  Some things that hurt to hear and helped , along with a few things I am still striving for.
The first year many did not want to acknowledge Mother’s Day with me.  I understand that it is difficult to know what to say.  Remember that we are always mothers.  The death of a child does not erase the love shared with our children.  Acknowledge the fact that you understand Mother’s Day is a difficult day to get through.  Then gently ask her about her child.  There is no greater gift you can give a bereaved mother than mentioning her child’s name and letting her talk about them.  She may cry, let her, hug her and tell her how sorry you are that her child is not here for the day.
mother-handsAs with all holidays, the bereaved mother may want to escape and do something out of the ordinary or may want to hide and do nothing.  However she chooses to spend the day is the right thing for her to do.  This can change at the last minute or from year to year.  Be patient, especially with the newly bereaved.  This is a path that has not be walked before and the trail is hard to see.  Just be there for her.
Do not shy away from a card or gift.  Honoring her child and motherhood is something very dear to our hearts.  Most importantly, let her know you are there for her-no matter what, to listen, hold a hand, cry, or just sit in the space with her.
One of the worse things you can do is to IGNORE US!  This applies to every day with a bereaved mom, but since we are more sensitive on this holiday I thought I would give a few guidelines of things to avoid.
PLEASE, do not use the typical cliches.  They are hard to hear.  While some bereaved parents may say things like “It was God’s will”, “God need another angel in heaven”,  “He/She is in a better place”, Everything happens for a reason” or, “At least you have other children”.  Let it be them to speak these words.  As far as I am concerned (and I am sure many other bereaved moms will agree), my child is not in a better place.  The better place is here with me.  Everything does not happen for a reason, could you give me a reason that your child should be dead?  Yes, I do have other children, but as much as I love them, they are each unique and have their own relationship with me.  No child can replace the other.
Try hard to remember that grief is a life long journey.  It will soften and as time goes on we will settle into a “holiday routine” but please don’t tell us it will be better next year.  It won’t, we will just have learned how to cope a bit better.
I heard a saying once and loved it.  “I may cry if you mention my child’s name, but you will break my heart if you don’t.”  This is so true.  I want to continue to talk about Tony and the memories I have of him.  On this Mother’s Day, honor a bereaved mother and ask her about her child!  You will be giving her the best gift she could have!

I wish all the bereaved Mom’s a peaceful gentle day with the angel wings of your child wrapped around you in love.  May you find a moment where you can share the love between you and your child and may it fill your heart and soul with peace.  Be gentle on yourself.  Take it one moment at a time.  Allow the day to unfold as needed, you can change your mind and plans are not written in stone.  Have a secret signal with someone so if you need to leave you may do so quickly with no sense of regret.  Whoever gives the signal is then given the gift for the other person to make the excuses and guide you gently to comfort.

When all else fails, do whatever you need to get through the day.  There is no right or wrong.  The sun will rise again tomorrow and the hope of a brighter day is always ahead.


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