Yesterday was International Bereaved Mother's Day, and it's not exactly a holiday that any mama wants to celebrate, but the existence of it is crucial.
So many bereaved and grieving mothers are hiding in the shadows, not wanting anyone else to carry any part of their burden for them. When people ask they will say, "I am fine, really!" Even though she may be, hopefully, sometimes she is not. Here are some ideas on how to honor and support her.
Remember her baby's birthday and/or due date! With all the dates we have going on in our brains, it can be hard to remember without reminder. Set a calendar alert in your phone, or write it into your calendar, so you can check in on her on those special days, maybe even plan a ladies day out, even if it's just for coffee and chatting. If you are far away, consider sending a letter, calling her, or picking something from her Amazon wish-list to gift! Even 10 years later, she still remembers.
Consider making something as a memorabilia for her baby! A hand-drawn picture of her family including her angel, a weighted doll the size/weight her baby would have been, a Christmas ornament, memory angel figurine, a self-care book surrounding loss, a song/poem you wrote, wind chimes, there are so many options that would really help her see that her baby is honored and loved as much as they should be!
If her loss was recent and she is still in recovery, set up a meal train for her in her community. The last thing any postpartum woman should have to worry about is preparing meals for herself and the rest of her family, let alone a woman postpartum, with no baby in arms. Focus on nourishing and warm meals if possible, they will be the most healing for her body and pleasant for her soul.
Let her talk about her baby, and don't hold back your emotions for her sake. She NEEDS to see them and feel them, too. Most people think that they need to be strong for their grieving loved ones, but this is not the case. Mothers would rather see you sharing feelings with them, so they don't feel so emotional, crazy, and overwhelmed. If you know that she got to see baby, ask about their eyes, skin, little fingers and toes, their name, weight, time they were born, or anything else that may feel special and unique.
Be mindful of your language. Phrases like "you can always try again," "at least they are in Heaven now," "you didn't really need another one anyways," and related are not appropriate. If you do not know what to say, "I love you," and "I am here for you," would both be neutral and loving. It is okay to not know what to say, but do not blab out something that will not be productive to her healing. Even a shoulder touch, hug, or shedding a tear out of response would be better than toxic positivity.
Taking the initiative to read through this, is helping a bereaved mama, as the next time you encounter one, be her a friend, family member, your spouse, or even, yourself, you may have an extra tip to give her just the little bit of extra love that she deserves.
Thinking of you with all my love and heart today, and all days, in solidarity, bereaved mamas.