Certifying Bereavement Doula
If you have a friend or loved one who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss, you might be unsure of how to best provide comfort on Mothers Day. You might be wondering: Should I say anything? If so, what? Is a gift appropriate? Should I just avoid bringing up Mothers Day altogether?
Here are four ways to support your loved one this Mothers Day:
- Acknowledge her motherhood and the difficulty of this day. For loss moms, Mothers day brings up all kinds of challenges around identity. Many women who experience early pregnancy loss might feel unacknowledged on this holiday. Those who have no living children may wonder if their empty arms make them less of a mother than those who have gone on to have a rainbow baby. Reach out to your loved one and acknowledge that this day is hard for them, and that you see them in the full light of their motherhood (whatever that means to them). This provides much appreciated validation that yes, today and every day, your loved one who lost a baby is indeed a mother and has every right to claim that title.
- Say her baby's name. The single most simple yet meaningful thing you could do for a loss mom is to say her baby’s name. Think about all of the love and thought that goes into naming a baby. I have yet to meet a parent, loss or otherwise, who didn’t labour over the name to give their child. Now imagine choosing the perfect name, one imbued with meaning and significance – and very rarely ever getting to hear that name in regards to your own child. A simple phone or text that says says ”Hi mama, I’m thinking about Sierra/Valley/Jacob/ today and sending you hugs" goes a long way. We love to hear our baby’s names spoken aloud.
- Be present to her experience. This is not the time to offer advice or platitudes. Simply be with her, and be present to her experience. Ask her how she is feeling. Ask her what Mothers Day means to her. Active listening is a gift.
- Honor her baby. Help your loved one keep her baby's memory alive. Some ideas: buy flowers for mom that represent the baby’s birth month, make a donation to a loss organization in her baby’s name, light a candle and send a picture to mom, visit the baby's grave or memorial site, send a picture of something that makes you think of the baby to mom, send a thoughtful note card.
Above all else, just show up. Imperfectly, as you are. Your presence matters.