How to support a grieving Mum this Mother’s day
Here we go again, the Easter Eggs are packed away, so every retail outlet in your virtual and literal vision has shifted to pushing out Mother’s Day paraphernalia.
This day makes school kids excitedly chose out crap presents at the school market, or make ghastly craft for the fridge. Dad’s waffle around shopping centres deciding if in fact mum really does want a new blender or will new Pjs cut it?
It is a day to celebrate the simple and overwhelming gift that motherhood is, but many mums experience the day without a child in their arms.
Whether this is due to the death of a child, a stillborn or a miscarriage, mums who have lost a child can experience the gamut of emotions as the day approaches.
Am I a fraud for saying I am a Mother?
Did I fail the Mothering test by losing my baby?
If I had only…..?
Why did this happen to me?
What if, what if, what if??
The isolation that bereaved mums feel is paramount in the ‘year of firsts’ without their child and Mother’s day is one of the days where those around us can shy away from our pain and hope from afar that we are ok. This is not the warm embrace that these mums need.
There are a few small ways that you can help to create new meaningful memories on Mother’s day for mums who are grieving.
Say their child’s name
As your mother taught you - use your words! Maybe you aren’t strong enough to say it face to face but you can say it in a card, in text, in song, in the sand, however you chose. Send a memory, send a photo, simply tell us you are thinking of our baby. Our children’s names don’t get yelled across playgrounds, or show up on the daycare downloads each day, so please say it freely and often. Say it with a smile.
Acknowledge Mother’s Day
This can be as simple as a text in the lead up to the week, or a voice message on the day. A validation from other’s that we are of course a Mother, despite our loss, is one of the strongest lifelines you can offer right now.
Food always wins
Bake, send food vouchers, bring lunch! Grief is exhausting no matter how much time has passed. When these significant days roll around each year, that tiredness sweeps back over us like a 20kg hiking pack. We get foggy, we forget to eat, we forget to manage the simple things.
Help us, gently
Menial tasks can feel overwhelming, so please help us without fanfare. Take the load of washing home to your house and return it clean and folded. Check the fridge in case we need milk or eggs. Make our bed. Take our other kids after school one day. Throw away the wet tissues (and replace the box with Aloe Vera Kleenex – there is no substitute!). Simple love acts like these are beyond measure when sadness feels overwhelming.
Reframe your own language
Condolence is a sport at which many players are plain crap. We lump our own emotions inward to the grieving, which is precisely what not to do. Nothing you say will take away our pain, so there is no “right” thing to say. But being conscious of your own words can ensure that you are not impacting us unnecessarily.
The thought behind condolence always comes from a good place, but aim for your own words to come out in a more positive light. Sentiments of “I wouldn’t know how to go on”, sound as though they are a compliment, but they are strange and hurtful. Your overarching communication needs to be: I am here, I wish could, but I cannot take your pain, but I am here.
Refer on if you see signs of a struggle
You can’t do it all. Be conscious that you aren’t a professional, and you don’t have all the answers. And likely, in fresh situations you too are grieving. These organisations exist specifically for grieving mums and dads. If you feel your friends need some further support, leave these phone numbers in their line of sight.
https://rednose.org.au1300 308 307 24/7 support line serviced by volunteer peer parents
https://www.panda.org.au/ 1300 726 306 9am to 7.30pm, Monday to Friday specifically support anxiety and depression in pregnancies after loss
https://www.bearsofhope.org.au 1300 11 4673 counsellor and psychological service