When Mother’s Day rolls around, it’s usually pretty easy to find suggestions for fun ways to celebrate the moms in your life. However, motherhood has a lot of different looks, and it’s just as (if not more) important to know what to say on Mother’s Day to someone who lost a child as it is to celebrate the moms who have not. For these grieving moms, small meaningful gestures are often welcomed and appreciated.
Child loss is much more common than you may realize. Every year in the U.S., there are around 9,000 child deaths and 24,000 stillbirths, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Additionally, between 10-15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, reports March of Dimes. In every single one of these situations, there is a tragic loss and a grieving mom.
“Mothers who have suffered a loss often find themselves overcome with grief and sadness on Mother’s Day,” licensed professional counselor and maternal mental health specialist, Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC, tells Romper in an email. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, how she lost the child, or how many living children she has — Mother’s Day is often still a painful reminder of her devastating loss. “A bereaved mom might find herself feeling a wide range of emotions [including] depression, jealousy, anger, or even rage [on Mother’s Day],” Brunner explains, “All of these feelings and emotions are normal.”
Even if you don’t know what to say on Mother’s Day to someone who lost a child, you can still support her and honor her child’s memory. Simply taking time out of your day to acknowledge her and her child will go a long way. “The silence around loss is so painful for mothers,” psychotherapist and perinatal mental health specialist Kellie Wicklund, MA, LPC, PMH-C, tells Romper. “Mothers don’t forget; they just feel forgotten.” Here are some ways to let them know you remember.
You don’t have to know exactly what to say on Mother’s Day to someone who has lost a child, you just need to show up for them in some way without holding them to any obligation to reciprocate. Check in on them in whatever way you think is best based on your relationship, and don’t push them to talk or celebrate if they don’t want to. Simply let them know that they, and their child, have not been forgotten.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor and Maternal Mental Health Specialist
Kellie Wicklund, MA, LPC, PMH-C, Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Perinatal Mental Health Specialist, and Owner and Clinical Director of the Maternal Wellness Center