Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood. It is a time that I look forward to each year as a mother and daughter; however, I recognize that Mother’s Day can bring mixed emotions to both children and mothers impacted by social distancing and other challenging circumstances related to trauma, grief and loss.
Children who have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of their mother or mother-figure often struggle as Mother’s Day may trigger painful emotions. For children whose maternal bonds have been disrupted within the early years of life, foster mothers, autines, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, step-mothers may take the role of mother. Adoptive, foster, and kinship mothers play such an important, yet difficult job to help children who may be experiencing grief or displaying  emotional dysregulation or behavioral issues.
Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder to women who struggle with infertility or who have lost children for various reason including miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of pregnancy, loss of parental rights, or custody issues. Rather than experiencing joy, mothers who have lost children may struggle with grief, anger, and loneliness. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises for couples.
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”  -Unknown
For children who have experienced the death of a mother, grandmother or mother-figure, it can be difficult to just get through the day with emotions that may come. Loss of significant people in our lives is difficult, especially when the loss is of a parent or child. Caring for someone with chronic illness can also trigger grief reactions (https://www.caregiver.org/grief-and-loss) due to ambiguous loss which is common when a parent is displaying cognitive impairments or anticipatory grief.
While it it normal to experience a variety of emotions with loss, symptoms that indicate that mental health counseling would be beneficial include the following–
  • Persistent feelings of depression
  • Decreased interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, or weight
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or completing tasks
  • Often feeling anxious or often worrying
  • Persistent feelings of anger, irritability, or negativity
  • Feelings of guilt, self-blame, shame, or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain
  • Tension in interpersonal relationships
  • Social Isolation and withdrawal from others
This Mother’s Day I encourage you to reach out to someone who may need some extra love and support. Express love and appreciation for the mother in your life. Remind her of your love. Show appreciation in a meaningful way. Continue to carry out traditions, while being creative to make accommodations during a time of social distancing. While this year, you may not be taking mom out to her favorite restaurant, there are still great options with takeout and carry out. We can encourage mom with words of affirmation, express our love and encouragement or send a token of appreciation with a heartfelt gift. We can also still stay connected to mothers and women who symbolize motherhood with phone calls and video chat.
I encourage any women reading this to reach out and seek support if you are struggling. There is hope and healing. Listed is just a sample of some of the excellent support resources available.  Know that you are not alone and that other mothers and professionals are there to help.

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Supports:

Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc. http://nationalshare.org/
Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota https://ppsupportmn.org/loss/
Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net
Exhale After-Abortion Hotline https://exhaleprovoice.org/ 1-866-439-4253

Outpatient Clinic (telehealth) Counseling Support for Grief & Loss

Hospital | Clinic Based Grief & Loss Resources

Support group for adoptive, foster or kinship parents