Coping with Loss on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is usually filled with Hallmark cards, flowers and family gatherings as we celebrate moms who selflessly do their best to care for others. However, I often think about the people who are grieving a loss on this holiday. Trying to move through the day without their mom, grandma or child.

The emotions leading to this holiday are heavy and complex, but you aren’t alone. I see your pain, others see your pain and we want to help. We can acknowledge and witness your feelings and find ways to honor the ones who are no longer here in a special way.

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  • Planting a tree or flowers
  • Letting a balloon go with a message attached
  • Wearing the loved one’s favorite color
  • Eating at their favorite restaurant or cooking their favorite meal
  • Going to a place that you often went with them
  • Engaging in their favorite activity
  • Creating a memory box and filling it with things that remind you of them
  • Making a stepping stone
  • Writing a letter to them
  • Drawing a picture
  • On a table cloth- have family and friends write stories or draw pictures
  • Playing their favorite music
  • Sharing stories about them

Maybe this year you create a new tradition and help your heart heal. Remind yourself that you don’t have to walk this journey of grief alone.

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I’ll never forget the day that a dear friend of mine had faced her worst nightmare. She was pregnant with twins and working as a child life specialist at her hospital. Her water broke and she went into labor at 25 weeks gestation. She delivered both her babies, Benjamin and Scarlet with the help of her husband and doctors. Unfortunately, Benjamin passed away and Scarlet fought for her life in the NICU for 130 days.

Jen and her husband were surrounded by love and support as they grieved the loss of their beautiful son and kept hope for their daughter’s life.

Here is their story:

I don’t talk about loss too much, I just try to  focus on the positive. I have a beautiful daughter named Scarlet and she has an angel in heaven, Benjamin that looks down on her. He is always in my heart.

These are the phrases I stick with. I don’t say, it hurts, becasue it sucks. It always sucks. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish something could be different.

Today, I had to have an ultrasound. (Status post: I’m not pregnant). I cried. I wept through the entire thing. See, the last time I sat in that little room, I was watching two babies bump into each other on the screen. I was wondering which double stroller I should buy and how I was going to take care of two infants.

Fast forward to two years later and I’m different. I’ve known the greatest love one can ever know and the greatest loss one should ever have. No parent should have to bury their child.

As a child life specialist, we are always trying to help families through difficult times, but helping people through grief is different. In an effort to always keep learning and growing, I suggest a few things you can do when someone is clearly having a tough time.

  •  Offer them a tissue, or some water, but skip the platitudes. “Oh you’ll get pregnant again.” “Oh, you still have one.” “It’ll all be fine.” Or, as I recently was told, “Don’t worry, your bad luck streak will end soon.” Skip it; it doesn’t help the grieving parent feel better.
  • Say you’re sorry. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” Even, “Wow, the last year sucked” (okay, maybe not that last one, but it would have been honestly better than half of what I got).
  • Offer a hug (if you know the person). Sometimes physical contact is what a person really needs at that moment.
  •  Just be with them. In the present moment of their grief, just allow them to be and breathe. Maybe they need to cry and maybe you’ll cry too, that’s okay. Just let them keep doing what they’re doing, and be with them while they do it.
  • Ask them what they need. “Is there anything I can do to help?” Mostly, no, but just asking can help the person to feel like they’ve been cared for.

Grief isn’t linear; it’s a twisted ball of emotions that affects people differently. Just remember to think before you speak and to always acknowledge the loss.
Here is a list of additional resources:

Related Posts:

How to Help During a Hospitalization 

The Things People Say to Parents of Preemies: Cheering on Charlie

Perinatal Hospice

From NICU to Home

 

Fundraise through Shop.com

Center for HOPE and Shop

I have been a volunteer bereavement facilitator for the Center for H.O.P.E. for the past 5 years. This phenomenal program in Long Island, New York, provides free services to children and families coping with a loss. As a non-profit organization they use fundraising efforts to continue the program.

They have just teamed up with Shop.com, which is an online retailer with over 4,500 partner stores where customers can earn CashBack on their purchases. Aside from CashBack, customers can also utilize the comparative shopping feature, set price alerts and receive extra discounts and coupons. When you make a purchase on www.Shop.com/CenterForHope, The Center for H.O.P.E. receives royalties and you earn up to 50% cash back on qualified purchases.

Click here to register.

Here is a video tutorial where supporters can register for their new account:

Here is a video totorial that teaches supporters how to benefit from shopping on the Center for Hope’s site:

So please register and shop at your favorite stores like Walmart, Toys R Us, JC Penney, Best Buy, Apple, Home Depot and many more. Save on your purchases, while fundraising for the Center For H.O.P.E.