Helping Women Grieve on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a day we celebrate the influential women in our lives. Mothers play a vital part in how we learn to function in the world. However, for some women, it is a reminder of what they are missing in their lives. Whether a woman has not had the opportunity to become a mother because of infertility, pregnancy or infant loss, or because they have not yet married, this day can be painful. I remember the first mother’s day after we lost our first baby. I knew in my heart that I was still a mother, but I did not have my baby here with me and it hurt. Often it is hard to know how to support or comfort those women. Here are a few tips for those who may not know what to do to help.

  1. Acknowledge her grief or pain. Some people are afraid they will make the woman more sad by talking about it. Through my experience and talking with many others, I have learned that most women will be comforted by knowing that other people are aware of our sadness or grief. It won’t make us more sad, it will most likely help us feel less alone
  2. Recognize these women for the mother roles they play in other’s lives. My younger sister does not have kids of her own but I am so grateful for the mothering, nurturing role she plays in my children’s lives. Many women who are not mothers biologically can still have the influence of a mother on the children in their lives and they deserve to be recognized too.
  3. Allow her to be sad. Many times we see other’s pain, we feel for them and want to cheer them up. However, this is usually not helpful. I’ve learned that statements like, “At least you can try again,” or “You’re still young,” are more invalidating than helpful. Most of us just want to know that others are aware of our pain and willing to let us feel it. Sometimes just saying, “I don’t even know what to say, but just know I am thinking of you,” is enough.
  4. Allow her space. If she doesn’t want to come to a Mother’s Day celebration or going to church is just too hard, don’t worry that there is something wrong with her. Don’t try to push her to come, just acknowledge her pain and allow her to take the space and time she needs for herself.
  5.  Love her. Allow your love to show through the worry or the uncomfortable feelings you might have about her experience. Most of us just want to be loved and acknowledged. You have what these grieving women need–love and acceptance.

For all of the women who struggle on Mother’s Day, you are not alone. Be kind and gentle with yourself as others try to show their love to you. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the influence all women have on the world and you are influential in your unique way.


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