International Bereaved Mother’s Day is observed the first Sunday in May. The day honors mothers who have lost a child and in particular honors women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or any type of pregnancy or infant loss. It’s important to acknowledge the loss of a loved one. Keep reading for how you can mark this special Bereavement Mother’s Day either for yourself or someone you care about.
Grief is hard. Understanding the stages of grief and being able to spot them is important. The traditional stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Whether you are the one walking through loss in this season, or supporting a loved one, knowing the stages and what some common coping mechanisms are – both good and bad – can be helpful. Some healthy ways people cope with stressful situations or grief include focused breathing, meditation, prayer and journaling. Unhealthy coping mechanisms temporarily distract from pain but ultimately can cause physical and emotional harm. Some of these include substance abuse, self-harm, isolation and bouts of anger. One way to deal with grief is to prioritize self-care. Keep reading for more ways to do this.
Ways to Honor Loss
If you are a mother grieving the loss of a child, it can feel like the world has moved on and seemingly forgotten your precious child’s life. Don’t take this personally. With each month that passes, it can feel farther and farther from their time here on earth and their memory. Find a special way for you to honor your loved one’s memory. This will be unique to your family and your loved one.
Creating a Memorial
Consider planting a tree or garden in honor of your child. When we lost our second son Cooper at 36.5 weeks, we were wrecked. It was March 18, 2016 and many of the trees and flowers were blooming in Richmond where we live. As we processed the loss and tried to navigate life post-Cooper, my mom and sister offered to plant two trees in his honor. We settled on weeping cherry trees and planted them in our backyard. Now, every spring as his birthday approaches, I look out and see those trees blooming. It gives me refreshed hope and keeps his memory alive in a special way. Laurelbox offers beautiful gardening keepsakes that honor lives cut too short. Another way to honor a life is to donate to a charitable cause or place of worship. It could be a cause your child was passionate about or a foundation that supports something meaningful to your family. Whatever it is, be generous. You won’t regret it. Another way is to craft or paint in honor of your loved one. Many people find working with their hands actually helps with stress as well.
Memorial trees and gardens honor loved ones. Here, our weeping cherry trees bloom in a burst of color every spring to mark our son’s short life.
Wearing a Special Piece of Jewelry
A remembrance piece of jewelry is also a sweet way to honor someone. After we lost our son, I ordered a ring engraved with “Cooper.” To this day, I still wear that ring and when I look down and see his name, I stop and think about him. Something you can wear daily to help you remember can be especially helpful if you worry you’ll “forget” your loved one. Laurelbox offers a variety of remembrance jewelry that is both thoughtful and beautiful.
Remembrance jewelry can be a daily reminder of your loved one. My ring engraved with my son’s name brings me both joy and sadness as only someone who has lost a child understands.
Taking Care of Yourself and Loved Ones
It can be hard to feel better after loss, but you need to take care of yourself. It is tempting to want to linger in your pain as a way of keeping their memory alive, but grieving well is important. Your loved one would want you to heal. That’s true if you lost a baby in the first trimester, or if you tragically had to bury a grown child. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Read on for more ideas on how to do that.
So many people grieving have found hope and courage by joining a support group. A quick Google search can show what’s available in your area or even consider joining a virtual group if need be! Finding a grief counselor can be another good option to help you process your emotions. Participating in events or activities that commemorate lost loved ones can be a great way to honor their life as well.
Self-care is an important part of the grieving process. So often we want to rush through life (and death) to make it into the next phase. Stop and take an inventory of what areas you need to work on and where you need to give yourself grace.Take time for yourself. Get up early if you need to or take a few days off work. Practice mindfulness. Be present in the moment. Engage in physical activities that promote well-being. That means change out of your pajamas and go for a walk, even if it’s around the block. Take your vitamins. Drink water. Do things that make you happy, too. That can be retail therapy or a Starbucks drink (in moderation!), but it can also be something as simple as taking a bubble bath or doing a puzzle. Make time for the things you love – and that includes people! Here is a list of 50 ways to practice self-care.
Journaling and Meditation
Journaling about your feelings can be helpful. I’ve kept a journal since I was in high school and any time I make myself sit down and write out what I’m going through, I leave feeling just a little bit more calm. Some people enjoy learning how to meditate to help them find pockets of peace. My faith is very important to me and I find prayer immeasurably helpful in any circumstance.
It doesn’t matter how you mark this Bereaved Mother’s Day, just make sure you do for yourself – or someone you love.
Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events. She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.