Grieving mothers experience sorrow on a bone deep level. Any attempt to emotionally empathise can stop your breath. Mothers that have buried a child often quietly disengage from communities, families, and friends during waves of grief, especially around Mother’s Day.
“We simply do not know how to support moms in grief.”
We intend to be compassionate by offering cliché support, giving hugs, and encouraging the focus to be on the positive, on living children, and moving forward. Unfortunately, we simply do not know how to support moms in grief. Our attempts in caring for this unique population leave grieving mothers feeling misunderstood and distressingly isolated.
So, what can we do?
We learn to comfort grieving moms best from grieving moms. Grieving mothers are our experts. As Mother’s Day approaches, consider yielding to and implementing the guidance below. The smallest gestures have the most impact in supporting a community of women that is often unseen.
Jamie lost her son, Brantley, when he was 6yo to a rare brain tumor. Jamie’s sensitivity toward other grieving moms on Mother’s Day, and all holidays, is compassion in action. Jamie suggests friends and family avoid asking, “How are you doing?” Jamie states, “Rest assured, grieving moms will not be doing well on Mother’s Day. Send a text, a card, or make a phone call to acknowledge the heaviness of the day. Encouraging words help us feel less hidden.”
Xaviera lost her son, Jacoby, at age 3 to a tragic accident. She is 4 years into her journey of grief. Xaviera loves her other children and is rooted in a spiritual community that she adores. Often, churches provide one flower to celebrate each child on this special day. Xaviera suggests that churches provide flowers that represent children to acknowledge the loss. “Yes, it takes kind and intentional forethought,” she says, “but, including grieving moms will instill much grace into congregations and communities.”
Nancy lost her daughter, Reign, at 2 months of age. She shares, “The primal love that mothers have for their children never ends. Therefore, my grief never ends. I won’t get over this. Please, be patient with me.”
Jodi continues in grief over the loss of two of her babies, Glenn and Carley, ages 5 and 4. Jodi requests, “Be mindful of my other children. We have all been impacted by loss. On Mother’s Day, invite and include us.”
“Child loss is a journey without guideposts.”
Child loss is a journey without guideposts. However, our communities can be safe havens for grieving moms by developing listening skills, empathy, and an inclusive mindset. Consider a mom that is shouldering grief this season and extend a hand of compassion. Acknowledging grievers on Mother’s Day allows us to honour love that never ends.
About the author
Lanise Shortell serves her local community as a perinatal and pediatric hospice nurse in Atlanta, Ga. She facilitates family centered grief groups biannually at Camp STARS, a family bereavement camp outside of Atlanta. Lanise speaks internationally to spiritual leaders on the importance of family grief support to enhance communities around our world. Lanise was placed on the advisory committee for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation in 2006 and is certified and internationally recognised as a compassionate bereavement care provider. Lanise has two adult children and a rescue pup that expand her heart beyond measure. Her desire to speak into the lives of families living with grief was birthed from of life changing event that occurred when she was 4yo. A motor vehicle accident that took Lanise’s family has become her vehicle to passionately address the importance of family focused grief care as she supports family units throughout our world.