Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN
Mother’s Day often comes with a wave of emotions especially for those who experienced loss. After a child passes, friends often scramble for the right words. Learn how to support a grieving mom in your life as Mother’s Day approaches this year.
How to Support a Grieving Mom on Mother’s Day
Many people struggle with how to show love and care to a grieving mom. Some may not even realize that their words and actions aren’t truly helpful.
There are no time limits on the grieving process. Whether a momma lost their child a month ago or in years past, Mother’s Day often comes with heavy baggage. Here are 4 ways to show support to a grieving mom this Mother’s Day.
Acknowledge Their Loss
It’s typical to shy away from discussing tough subjects. You may think that grieving parents don’t want to talk about their loss or simply try to focus on positive conversation. However, it’s not helpful to ignore a friend’s pain.
Acknowledge the mourning mother’s loss and recognize that they are a mother, too.
Say their child’s name. Many bereaved moms report worrying that their son or daughter will be forgotten. Allow your friend to share stories about their child or express their feelings openly.
Americans commonly greet others with, “How are you?” It may seem like a loaded question or insensitive to a grieving parent. Instead, consider telling your friend, “It’s nice to see you,” or “Just checking in with you.”
Give Empathetic Responses
It’s important to convey your concern and care appropriately. Our responses may seem insensitive and distant at times.
Research professor and author, Dr. Brené Brown, discusses common “empathy misses” preventing us from connecting to others.
- Sympathy Vs. Empathy: “I feel sorry for you” is sympathy. Recognizing a person’s emotions and actively listening are examples of empathy.
- Minimizing: “At least you have two other children still alive” and “Everything happens for a reason” are two classic examples of minimizing a grieving mother’s feelings and experiences. Instead, let her cry, laugh, or feel whatever she feels.
- Comparing: Don’t pretend to understand a mother’s grief. Many people try to connect with those grieving by bringing up their losses, however, it often takes away from your friend’s current experience. Do less talking and more listening.
Empathetic responses involve action more than words. There’s no need to provide any solutions or fix any problems. Focus on demonstrating that you’re actively listening to your friend to better understand their experience.
Encouragement & Self-Care
It’s important to show support and encouragement to a grieving mother. Self-care is vital to the healing process. As their friend, you can offer this support in a variety of ways.
Offer to help your friend by mowing their lawn or doing laundry. When we’re grieving, it’s often more difficult to keep up with these tasks.
Show that you’re thinking of your friend by sending flowers or a care package.
A hug and a hand-written card are two examples of simple ways to make your friend feel loved and truly seen. Every person shows and receives love in different ways. Consider if your grieving friend would prefer a hug, time spent together, words of affirmation, or a physical gift.
Invite to Join Along
Many bereaved moms feel lonely on Mother’s Day. Help your grieving friend feel loved by asking to get dinner or do an activity together such as a spa day.
If you’re having a mom’s night out or Mother’s Day brunch, extend an invitation. A grieving mother may not feel up for a social event and that’s okay. Simply asking to get together around Mother’s Day expresses your encouragement and support.
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- Hilarious Parenting Tweets That Will Make You LOL
Holidays are a difficult time for grieving parents. Many emotions rise for bereaved moms during Mother’s Day and friends may struggle to respond.
As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India.
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