Remembering Love: International Bereaved Mother’s Day

 “Honoring those who hold a child in their heart, instead of their arms.”

What is International Bereaved Mother’s Day?

International Bereaved Mother’s Day, observed on the first Sunday in May, is a day dedicated to honoring and supporting mothers who have experienced the profound loss of a child. Originating from a desire to recognize the grief of bereaved mothers and provide a space for remembrance, this day holds deep emotional significance for those who have endured the unimaginable loss of a child. This year, International Bereaved Mother’s Day will be observed on May 5, 2024.

The Significance of International Bereaved Mother’s Day

On this day, we acknowledge the profound pain and grief experienced by bereaved mothers everywhere. For many women around the world, Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days, as they are reminded of the painful heartbreak of living life without their child.

By acknowledging International Bereaved Mother’s Day, we provide support and comfort by recognizing a mother’s loss – which never ends – and remembering her child. This day opens conversation about grief, the impact of child loss, and breaks the silence around the topic. Many mothers often feel lonely in their grief because too often, society doesn’t recognize or validate their pain. A bereaved mother’s pain is real, and she does not have to be alone. By raising awareness, we can slowly change the way grieving is seen in our society.

How to Acknowledge Bereaved Mother’s Day as a Support

Acknowledging International Bereaved Mother’s Day can and should be done with sensitivity and empathy. Begin the conversation by asking the bereaved mother in your life if she is aware of International Bereaved Mother’s Day. If you are introducing International Bereaved Mother’s day to her – which you may be – you’re showing how important she and her experience are, and remembering her child and their special place in her heart and the world. If she’s aware of International Bereaved Mother’s day, ask her how she’d like to remember her child and honor her grief on or around this day.

– International Bereaved Mother’s Day isn’t just about validating a bereaved mother’s grief, it is also about remembering her child, who is often forgotten by others.

– It is important to use her child’s name when sharing a memory, writing a card, or talking about them. By saying her child’s name, you are acknowledging her child and their memory. Her biggest fear is her child being forgotten.

– Give her time and space to share her grief and her memories of her child. Lending a listening ear allows for mothers to exist in their grief and to be emotionally supported by someone she trusts. Know that your only role is to listen, not to give any advice. A listening ear can be much more supportive than trying to find the right words of comfort.

You can also offer simple gestures of support, such as sending cards or flowers, letting her know you are thinking of her, acknowledging her motherhood, and remembering her with her child. You could otherwise gift her a memento with her child’s name on it, a shadow box to display memorial items, or a journal for her to write letters to her child.

What to Say to a Bereaved Mother

When offering words of comfort to a bereaved mother, it is crucial to express genuine empathy and validation of their grief. Avoiding any clichés and platitudes that may unintentionally minimize their pain is essential. It is absolutely okay if you find it hard to find words of comfort, here are a few helpful ways to offer support:

– “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, and I want you to know that I am here for you.”

– “You and (insert child’s name) are in my thoughts. I am happy to hold space for you if today is harder than most.”

– “Hey, I am thinking about you and checking in to see how you’re feeling today. How can I support you today?”

– “I’m remembering (insert memory or child’s name) and I wanted to share the warmth this memory brought me.”

Equally, DO NOT

– Try to offer reassurance on things you are not certain about in grief E.g. “Everything will be okay…”, “You will move on…”, “It will feel better…”.

– Tell a bereaved mother how she ‘should’ or where she ‘should’ be in her grief.

Honoring Yourself as a Bereaved Mother

This is a day for you and your child. You do not have to hold yourself together. You can and should allow your emotions to exist and flow, while you focus on your relationship with your child and honoring their memory. You are a mother, and you will always be your child’s mother. This is why International Bereaved Mother’s Day exists.

You can celebrate your child’s life by lighting a candle in your child’s memory, visiting your child’s favorite place, cooking their favorite meal, looking at ultrasounds or photos, placing flowers at their grave, and taking out any cherished mementos you have kept. Your child’s memory lives through you and those around you.

How to Find Support if You Are a Bereaved Mother

For bereaved mothers seeking support, there are resources and organizations such as Postpartum Support International, that provide specialized support for mothers going through grief and loss. Perinatal Mental Health therapists who specialize in grief and loss are also valuable resources for support and care. Online communities and support groups offer a space for sharing experiences and finding solidarity with others who understand their pain. Additionally, prioritizing self-care and seeking professional help when needed can aid in coping with grief and finding healing.

As we honor International Bereaved Mother’s Day, let us express solidarity and support for bereaved mothers worldwide. Through compassion, empathy, and understanding, we can honor their grief and celebrate their journey of motherhood, recognizing the profound love they hold for their children, even in their absence. Together, let us honor those who hold a child in their heart, instead of their arms.

Teresa Urbina
Teresa, moved to San Antonio from her beloved El Paso in 2021, and brings the warm desert vibes wherever she goes. Her heart finds solace in the wild outdoors, be it amidst untamed wilderness, serene waters, or the embrace of Mother Nature herself. When she's not connecting with the elements, you'll find her channeling her creative self, crafting birthday decorations or for holiday celebrations. Teresa is a fierce mama to two energetic boys, born in 2020 and 2023, and she shares life's adventure with her husband. As a Perinatal Mental Health Therapist, she pours her heart into helping mothers find their strength and resilience. Catch her vibrant life snippets on Instagram, where she shares moments of bliss and insight. Beyond her therapeutic pursuits, Teresa finds joy in peaceful evenings on her patio, dancing in her kitchen with her littles, and going for runs. If you ever need restaurant recommendations, she'll point you to Chris Madrid's, and when it comes to landmarks, the San Fernando Cathedral holds a special place in her heart. But ask her about her favorite San Antonio tradition, and she'll wholeheartedly declare her love for Fiesta!