The Gift We Should Give to All Mothers Who Lost a Child

tulipFor moms who have lost a child, Mother's Day can be bittersweet. Ginny Callaway, author of A Friend in Grief: Simple Ways to Help, has first-hand experience dealing with such tragedy and has graciously agreed to share her experience. In this poignant and touching blog, you'll find tips on how to reach out to a grieving mom on Mother's Day, and any other day of the year. See below:

I remember the first time someone asked me how many children I had after my 10-year-old daughter Sara Jane had died in a car accident.

My husband David, my 13-year-old son Zeb, and I had gone to a community potluck where we didn’t know a lot of people. I was moving down the buffet line when the nice man next to me casually asked the seemingly innocuous question.

I was stunned, frozen in place. I didn’t know what to say. Do I say one and betray Sara Jane? If I said two, did I need to say one was dead? Honestly, I don’t remember what I said then, but that moment has never left me.

For me and many other mothers who have lost a child, Mother’s Day is complicated. The day Zeb was born and the day Sara was born were the two happiest days of my life. The day Sara died was the worst day. Mother’s Day fits somewhere in the middle. Both emotions, the joy and the agony, are present every day, but Mother’s Day brings them sharply into focus.

If you know a mom who has lost a child, understand that Mother’s Day is a day of very mixed emotions, but don’t be afraid to reach out to her. I always appreciate when a friend sends a note saying, “I’m thinking of you today and remembering Sara.” It’s easy to feel that you would be opening a wound by speaking the child’s name, reminding the mom, but, believe me, that mother hasn’t forgotten and she will be comforted by your caring.

One thing that I’ve learned from talking with other grieving parents is that “child” doesn’t have an age. I met a couple way up in their 80s who were openly grieving the death of their 65-year-old son. And mothers who suffer miscarriages miss the child they already loved, but never got to hold.

On May 12, I’ll get a beautiful bouquet full of yellow flowers from my wonderful son, and my memories of loving Sara Jane will be my gift from her.

This Mother’s Day, take the time to reach out to a mom whose child isn’t here to give her a handmade card or a great big hug or a bouquet of yellow flowers. Your gift from the heart is the gift she’ll remember.

How do you reach out to a friend in grief?

Photo via Geraint Warlow/Flickr

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nonmember avatar mel

...I didnt know your daughter but I took a moment to thank spirit for her ... and to honor her life and her energy..

April... AprilJune

Our  neighbour lost her oldest son in a car accident before we were neighbours. She talks about him all the time and just refers to him as "our oldest". She has four living children, and shared lots of stories with us about parenting as we were new parents ourselves. I think it is lovely that she talks about him so much, and I think just listening is a way to help her with her grief. I am sorry about your daughter.

Max Maxey

my best friend gave birth 3 months premature. her daughter passed away 3 days later, the same day i was giving birth to my full term son. not a day goes by that i don't think of my best friend's little angel

Krist... KristinRox

Being there is what I have found to be the best thing you can do to a grieving mother. Just so they know that they arent alone, and that youre ready and wanting to listen or hug them or whatever they want when they are ready to let it out. Its the faces that are around and helpful are the ones that help those get through such hard times. 

Wish2Be Wish2Be

Thank you for writting this blog. So many times I dont know how I should act or what I should say when the childs birthday comes around or mothers day ...or even holidays. This has helped me greatly.

nonmember avatar Miss Hope

I am very close to a mom who lost her 9 year old son last year to a brain tumor. This will be her first Mother's Day without him. And what makes it harder is that 1 week after Mother's Day is the 1 year marker of his death.

Rushn311 Rushn311

I lost my mom at age 13 and my brother and SIL lost their son at age 8. I know both of those situations first hand.

kellynh kellynh

I have sent flowers honoring their child to many friends.

4kidz916 4kidz916

I'm very sorry for your loss.  Mother's Day must be hard for you and others moms who have lost a child.  Hold tight to those precious memories. 

mrswi... mrswillie

I love my 19yo Ds in 2009

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