Thursday, May 3, 2012


~ Karla Helbert, MS, LPC, Grief, Loss & Bereavement Expert

All bereaved parents long to hear other people speak their child’s name after he or she has died. Many non-bereaved people think (wrongly) that if they mention the child, this will somehow “open the wound,” or “remind” us of the loss. You can trust that we are already thinking about our children, that wound is ever-present. Our children are never, ever far from our hearts and minds. One of the greatest fears for a bereaved parent is that no one, except for us, will remember our children. If you have a special memory of her child, send a card with a story of that memory enclosed. It will be a cherished treasure. Even a card simply wishing her a happy and peaceful day is a gesture that is greatly appreciated.

When we are bereaved mothers who are also fortunate enough to have other children who are alive, we continue to miss and to mourn the ones who are not here for our arms to physically enfold. For these mothers, acknowledging their child who has died can be an incredibly meaningful gift. One child does not replace another. We celebrate in the joyful presence of our living children and deeply mourn the absence of the ones who are not here sharing our daily lives. Remembering that we are mothers to all our children is such a special act.

For women who have suffered early miscarriage, women experiencing infertility problems, or for birth mothers whose birth children have been placed in adoptive homes, Mother’s Day can bring a silent and isolating grief. Much of society does not recognize the loss that can be inherent in these women’s circumstances. Simply letting her know that you are thinking of her on this day can be welcome gesture. A phone call to check in and a simple, “I was thinking of you today and wondering if you were doing ok.” This can allow her to talk about her feelings if she chooses to do so.

For any person whose mother has died, Mother’s Day can be a painful and sad time. A tradition of the not so long ago past called for corsages to be worn on Mother’s Day. A red corsage meant that person’s mother was still alive. A white flower meant their mother had died. Those who wore white flowers were most likely given extra hugs or an extra squeeze of the hand. The openly worn symbol of the flower allowed others to feel freer to talk about the woman who had died, to feel invited to share remembrances or condolences. It's sad this tradition is so rare today...

Part 3 of 3 continued tomorrow, Friday, May 4th

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