10 Things a Grieving Mom Really Wants from You on Mother's Day

Friends Comforting Mom on Mother
Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash


This is what grieving moms really want most.

Recently, when 200 grieving moms were asked the question, “What can others say or do on Mother’s Day to make this day a little easier for you”, over 80% percent of the 200 respondents answered,

“Recognize that I am a mother”.

Renee Wood, former Neonatal Social Worker and founder of The Comfort Company, an online sympathy gift store, agrees.

“While Mother’s Day is a day of celebration for many woman… for some, it’s painful reminder of a terrible loss. It’s important to remember those moms who have had a failed pregnancy or who have lost a child at any age.”

In response to the survey results, The Comfort Company offers these ten simple ways to reach out to a grieving mother on this difficult holiday.

1. Recognize that they're a mother: Offer a hug and a “Happy Mother’s Day”. Send a card to let them know you remember they are a mother even though their child is not with them physically. Text a gentle reminder: "I know this might be a difficult day for you and I hope it helps in some small way to know you're being thought of and loved."

2. Acknowledge they have had a loss: How do you take the "happy" out of Mother's Day? You just do. "I know this day holds more hurt than happy. Thinking of the loving mom you are and will always be." OR "I can't imagine what this day is like for you, but I'm thinking about you extra hard today."

3. Use their child’s name in conversation: It's natural to be scared to mention the name of a child who's died. The misconception is that you'll be reminding the mom of their death. But the exact opposite is true: You are reminding them of their child's life. And that is exactly what most grieving moms want. As one mom affirms, “People rarely speak Jack's name anymore, but the brave ones who do will never know how much I appreciate them keeping him alive in their hearts, too."

4. Visit the grave site: Many mothers felt that it was “extremely thoughtful” when others visited their child’s grave site and left flowers or a small pebble near the headstone. "Whenever I go and see evidence that someone else had gone there too, it makes the visit a little more bearable." It was also helpful when friends or family offered, "I'd love to keep you company if you want to visit the cemetery today."

5. Light a candle:  Let the mother know you will light a candle in memory of their child on Mother’s Day. Better yet, send her the same candle so you can remember together.

6. Share a memory or pictures of the child: Give the gift of a memory. One mother wrote that the “greatest gift you can give is a heartfelt note about my child and the thing you loved most about them”.  It doesn't need to be long or complicated. Even a text message works: "Thinking about Grace today and how she wore that 🐇bunny costume for a month without taking it off!"

7. Don’t try to minimize the loss: Avoid using any clichés that attempt to explain the death of a child: God needed another angel. Secondly, don’t try to find anything positive about the loss: You still have two healthy children. When you're unsure, less is more: I know this might be a hard day for you.💜I'm thinking about you.

8.  The days leading up to Mother's Day can suck: Anticipatory grief is realSometimes the buildup for this complicated holiday can be worse than the actual day. Reaching out 2-3 days ahead of time with a Starbucks or Panera gift card and a note that says, "I know all the Mother's Day talk might be hard. Here's for when you need a break from it all." Grief messes with basic life stuff. Easy food helps.

9. Give them something living to care for: A small tree to plant, or a potted plant (think Orchid) gives them something to care for and nurture. It can be a comforting activity on Mother's Day and a reminder that love, like life, keeps growing.

10. ASK a better question: Some grieving moms need space, others want company. Instead of trying to be a mind reader and overthink what you should do...just ask. Keep it simple.  Here's a good question: "What would make Mother's Day a little bit easier for you this year?" 

Mother's Day can be a tender, terrible day. But you, sweet friend, you can make a difference with your love. It's a long game, and every bit of support helps a grieving mama feel just a little less alone in the world.