Before you try to recognize and comfort a mom experiencing the loss of a son or daughter, you must first understand who she is. If you’re not one yourself, you need to know that the “bereaved mother” has many meanings. Providing proper support comes first with proper understanding. This understanding is the foundation to guide her to healing.
No matter how bad the pain is, relief is possible, and a strong support system helps greatly.
There is no exact definition of a bereaved mother, because the meaning varies. A dictionary might tell you it’s a mother that has lost a child, but the true meaning is in their personal story. Mothers feel the loss of a child from all different causes. Did you know it’s possible to mourn the loss of a child still living? Be considerate to their suffering, no matter how she defines herself. Their support network and journey to healing may look very different from yours.
Keep an open mind about the meaning and what she should be doing. Do not judge a bereaved mother.
She might have textbook experiences of grief ranging from anger, guilt, shame, and denial, or it may seem like she has none at all. It can be difficult to tell if she’s grieving or clinically depressed. Experiences like these are very personal. Grieving a child is one of the hardest things to go through, so do not make her feel alienated for these feelings (or lack of).
You should only be concerned if she has seriously withdrawn (stopped communicating for days). It’s also serious if there are signs of suicidal thoughts or a significant change in behavior (e.g. substance abuse or violent changes in behavior).
Give her a safe space to cope, and you’ve already done so much more than you realize. Say to a grieving mother, “I am here for you” to help her realize that she can look to you for support, free from judgement. A big relief for any struggling mother is when they realize they have that support.
Some mothers may want to talk about the loss, or what they’re going through. If she wants to talk to you, be patient and welcome her story with an open heart. This will go a long way for her journey to healing. Expect shame, guilt, and denial, but be patient and strong.
Encourage her to keep rituals and family traditions. It may sound counterproductive, but many grief stricken mothers find commemorations or memorials therapeutic. Observing the memory of a beloved is comforting, as it helps the bereaved connect with the person they’ve lost. In fact, thoughtful gifts for a grieving mother are custom candles or personalized memorial pieces.
It’s important that she knows support is always readily available. Even if you aren’t a grieving parent yourself, you can tell her about different local support groups, as well as Facebook groups. These groups also observe International Bereaved Mother’s Day, a holiday held annually on May 3rd in recognition of grieving mothers. Most groups hold events virtually but some groups have in person events as well. In fact, Bereaved Parents USA holds a national conference every year. These events and groups remind grieving mothers that they are not alone. They have the support they need to get through this.
You might also be surprised to hear that financial assistance exists for bereaved mothers as well. Bereaved families struggling with funeral costs also qualify to buy caskets for $1 through Pahiki Caskets, an eco friendly casket company based in Hawaii. This assistance is purposely here to help hundreds of families a year with unexpected and untimely deaths. Angels of Hope, Inc. and Walk in Sunshine provide financial assistance to bereaved families, but only within certain states.
Losing a child is a devastating loss, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if further support is needed beyond what these resources can provide. Grief counseling can help her heal and further direct her to resources that can help her. A professional counselor should facilitate a judgement free, safe, constructive, and insightful atmosphere to help ease the suffering of the grieving mother. A good counselor will also be able to inform her of further financial assistance organizations, and specialized treatments such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
In our 20 years in this industry, we have networked with many counselors from across the nation. But to find a psychologist can be a long process, and if she has never done it then figuring out where to start can add to the overwhelm. We hope our articles on how to find a good therapist will be able to bring some clarity to those that need it.
We hope this resource informed and helped your loved ones during this difficult time. If we have been able to help you, please consider sharing this article on Instagram and Facebook with a link back to our site. One share can potentially save lives.