Purple Flowers with Green Foliage

Bereaved Mother’s Day: Celebrating the Forgotten Moms

By Lara Gillham and Sarah Kariniemi, Jackson’s Mom and Brecken’s Mom

Being a Mom can sometimes be complicated, especially for grieving mothers. Moms who have lost an only child often feel like they are no longer a mom, or haven’t done enough to be celebrated on Mother’s Day because they aren’t caring for a living child. Even moms with living children have complicated feelings surrounding their role as a mom to the child they lost.

It is important to remember that Child loss doesn’t make a woman any less of a mother. You are not less of a son, daughter, brother or sister, just because you lose a parent or sibling. Motherhood is no different.

While Mother’s Day is a beautiful celebration, there are so many women who feel left out on that day because they’ve experienced the death of a child, had a miscarriage or stillbirth, or struggled to become pregnant. For them, the day is filled with complicated emotions, including sadness, isolation, loneliness, unworthiness, and heart break.

International Bereaved Mother’s Day was founded in 2010 as a way to remember those moms who have experienced the loss of a child or infertility. It was founded by Carly Marie Dudley, a few years after the loss of her stillborn son Christian. This year it will be celebrated on May 2, 2021, one week before Mother’s Day. The intention is actually that Bereaved Mother’s Day will be a temporary holiday, and the moms who have lost a child or are unable to conceive will eventually be included in Mother’s Day.

While celebrating Bereaved Mother’s Day may look a little different than the traditional holiday, it is still a day to celebrate. Below are some suggestions for how you can honor the bereaved moms in your life.

What can others do for Bereaved moms?

  • Acknowledge her. Wish her a happy mothers day. Once a mother, always a mother.
  • Listen to her story, if she wishes to share, and don’t be afraid to speak her child’s name. Mothers are always thinking of their child so you’re not going to negatively “remind” her of her child. Mothers don’t want their child to be forgotten, so bringing up a child’s name may be a gift to her.
  • Promote self care. This can be a massage, manicure, or taking her out to lunch.
  • Take a picture of something that reminds her of her child and send it to her letting her know you are thinking of her.
  • Send her a card or flowers.
  • Make a donation in her child’s name and let her know you did so.
  • Don’t avoid her. This may only make her feel more isolated.

How can a Bereaved mom celebrate the day?

  • Plant a flower or a tree in honor of your child.
  • Have a moment of silence, reflection, or meditation.
  • Customize or make a memorial wind chime.
  • Create a charm bracelet of things that remind you of your child.
  • Write a letter to your child.
  • Go somewhere that was special to your child or reminds you of them.
  • Do what feels right and makes you happy. Sometimes that means doing nothing.

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