There’s a term that’s emerged in the last few years: loss moms.
It’s a term used to describe the experience of women who have lost their children due to miscarriages, death, kidnappings, removal by court systems and other experiences that prevent the woman and child from being together.
It’s a painful experience and yet there are so many loss moms out there. And Mother’s Day can be a particularly triggering time of the year for them.
Here at Evergreen, we have a few tips on how you can support any loss moms in your life on Mother’s Day this year.
1) Don’t assume how the loss mom wants the day to be acknowledged/not acknowledged.
This is key. Every loss mom’s experience is different when it comes to wanting Mother’s Day to be acknowledged or not. Your friend/partner/family member may not want to have anyone bring up Mother’s Day at all to her, or they might want something very special to take place on that day.
Because what might feel best to one person may not feel good to another, and because how you may want to be treated may look different if you were in that loss mom’s shoes, don’t assume anything about what she might want or not want on Mother’s Day. Instead, check in with her directly to see what she wants.
Consider saying something like, “Hey, I know Mother’s Day is coming up and I imagine this day could be triggering for you. I’d like to support you in any way I can but I want to check in and ask what kind of support would feel good to you on that day?”
2) If she doesn’t want acknowledgment on that day, plan something before and after as a sign of support.
If the loss mom in your life doesn’t want Mother’s Day to be acknowledged at all, obviously it’s best to respect her choice. And you can still express your love and care for her by potentially hanging out with her before or after Mother’s Day just to spend time together and do something that may feel good.
3) If she does want some acknowledgment or support, consider one or more of the following:
- Call or text her on Mother’s Day. Acknowledge how hard the day may be for her and let her know that you’re there to listen.
- Send her flowers with a note telling her how much you love her.
- Plan to spend the day with her. Avoid restaurants and brunch spots where families may be out celebrating unless she tells you this would feel good to her. Consider getting her out of town and into nature: to the mountains, to the forest, to the ocean, anywhere where she can feel at ease and less triggered by scenes of moms and kids all around her.
- Encourage her to book a therapy session before, after, or on Mother’s Day itself. Drive her to the session, take her out for tea afterward.
- If she doesn’t have a therapist or want to book a session, hold space for her while she talks about her experience losing her child.
- Help her design and create the kind of day and experience that is going to feel supportive and nurturing to her – whatever this looks like.
- Don’t shy away from discussing her loss. Many of us feel overwhelmed by death and grief and don’t know how to talk about it when someone around us experiences this. I believe it’s better to be clumsy and actually acknowledge someone’s reality than to avoid the subject altogether. You can even imagine saying something like, “I want to hear more about your experience. I’m sorry if I don’t know the right questions to ask or the exact right thing to say but I love you and I really, truly care. Would you please tell me more about what that was like for you and how Mother’s Day feels for you now?”
At the end of the day, any acknowledgment or expression of love to someone who has experienced a loss is well intended.
You can better support your friend/family member/partner by directly acknowledging how hard Mother’s Day may be for them as a loss mom and being open and receptive to what they need and want for support on that day.