Mother’s Day for the Grieving

Mother’s Day for the Grieving

I recently came across a friend requesting prayers for a family in her community. When asked about what happened she shared the news that the family’s oldest child, a 5 year old boy, had died the day before.

As I read through the shock wave of reactions and felt my own sorrow and nausea overwhelm me, and then I realized that Mother’s Day was just 8 days away for this poor mother. While she has 2 other children who will wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day” there will be a horrible emptiness where that other sweet little voice should be.

I’ve heard from many moms sharing in support group settings (if they lost their only child) how they still feel like a mom – that’s because they still are a mom. The absence of the child doesn’t change the identity of the parent – once a mom, always a mom. It’s the same when a parent dies, we don’t cease being sons or daughters, the connection doesn’t disappear even though it can feel like it does.

I feel that this blog has a responsibility to hear the voices of those who find Mother’s Day painful. This blog is dedicated to those who have lost a mother or a child, to those who have suffered through years of infertility and to those who’s mother-child relationships are strained and painful.

Mother’s Day isn’t always easy to celebrate, but it is good. It’s good to remember, to revisit times of hope, of freedom from worry, perhaps the days of our youths when “Mom” was a heavenly word that promised a bandaid for that cut knee or a hug after a hard day.

I am reminded of a story I heard recently from Doug Manning, a new friend of mine. He writes about woman in his congregation who’s 18 month old child died unexpectedly of what seemed like a normal case of the croup. Doug writes,

“I have always thought she was brilliance under pressure. Her statement was a flash of insight in a time of darkness – a flash of insight which ultimately changed my career and my life . . .

The young mother was crying hysterically. It is strange that we cannot allow tears. Nothing is more natural than to cry. Nothing gets as quick a reaction from us as someone crying out of control Everyone there that night began to react:

“There, there – now get a hold of yourself.”

“You can’t carry on like this.”

“Come on now – stop crying.”

Suddenly she stopped, stepped back, looked at them and said,

“Don’t take my grief from me. I deserve it. I am going to have it.”

I hope this philosophy can be a part, as you need it to be, of your Mother’s Day and a part of your life. If you need the day, a few hours, 10 minutes to have your grief, have it. Take it, you deserve it.

I also want to encourage you to tell stories, relive happier times, and find pieces of happiness to hold on to. Maybe even make time to honor those you are missing with some practices you can share with others.

As you are gathered together with your family, propose a toast to your loved one, share a memory you treasure about them and invite others to share their memories as well. The conversation may eventually move off topic, but stories will be shared, the name of your loved one will be heard, and you will be reminded of the precious fact that they haven’t been forgotten. They existed.

Wishing all of you, a meaningful Mother’s Day.

*to learn more about Doug’s story, read his book Don’t Take My Grief Away From Me

|| what do you think?

– Have you ever had a Mother’s Day that was unlike any other? Changed by a loss or broken relationship?

– What ways have you remembered those people that are missing from your family gathering?

– What do you think about Doug’s story? Have you ever felt like that poor mother?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Kari Lyn Leslie says:

    Thanks for sharing this piece from Doug Mannings book. I have been around grieving mother’s who seemed at peace and composed, and when I read this, I completely embraced it. Though I envy women whose faith and composure are strong and solid, I believe I would crumble like a cookie if anything ever happened to one of my kids. What a blessing to know grief is very personal, and we don’t have to behave in “the right” way. Our grief is our own, and we can embrace it any way we desire. It’s also very helpful as an observer of someone else’s grief, to let them have their tears, anger, solitude, wailing, the list goes on and on.
    Great job,

    • Kari,
      I love how you picked out two lessons from this passage; the first one being the more obvious one to me, that we all grieve differently. While it is obvious once it’s stated, it’s very hard to accept and for many people, very hard to allow for themselves. We all like to follow our role models because it gives us a sense of “how it should be” and control but grief is a symptom of being out of control and therefore shouldn’t be handled as formulaic.
      The second lesson you point out (and this is my favorite) is how we are to act as observers of grief. It is easy when we are not participants to think critical thoughts about others actions, to want to cater to our own discomfort over their extreme pain. We naturally think of ourselves first and also somehow believe that if we can get them to stop crying it means they aren’t sad any more – it’s crazy but it’s true.

      I’m going to be mulling that latter part over some more, I love that you pointed it out to me & pulled out yet another important moral from Doug’s stories.

      Thank you : )

  2. Christopher Iverson says:

    I was amazed thinking that this was my mother’s 57th Mother’s Day. Wow! She has lived in Texas for the past 14 years and I haven’t had the opportunity to take her to brunch or walk along the beach chatting about life. I did enjoy three weeks in Italy and Switzerland with her last summer and realized how much I do enjoy spending time with her . After her death, it will be challenging not having her available for chats and emails. I’ve had her for 55 years…55 Mother’s Days. I have been blessed.

    • Wow Chris, I love the perspective on how long you mom has been a mom. What a sweet way to look at her achievements. I hope that one of these years you find yourself with her on Mother’s Day and able to treat her to a favorite walk or restaurant. I know that taking trips with your mom has been a huge source of joy in your life and I think you BOTH are so fortunate to have such a loving and compatible relationship.

      Thank you for sharing about her,


  3. Amy says:

    Great Blog. We often forget that once a mother always a mother. Just cause there gone doesn’t erase our title. This Mother’s Day was especially painful for myself and my family. Having lost my dad just 11 days ago and this being our first holiday without him. However we did reflect on what he had given to us over the years and how special he always made us feel on this special day. Thanks for sharing Doug Mannings story, he always has such amazing stories that really allow us to reflect and heal.

  4. Stacy says:

    Beautiful blog Molly. I definitely cannot imagine the feelings felt by a mother who has lost a child or a child losing their mother. I can relate to this because my mother had a miscarriage 12 years ago and ’till this day she always includes my baby brother in our lives. “He would have been…” is always things she says. A mother is always a mother even if the child is not physically present, very true. Every Mother’s Day my sisters and I spoil mom and although she will always grieve the loss of her baby boy we are there to support her even with just a kiss and a hug. A void so great can never be filled but I can tell by her smile and loving ways that we make it easier for her in some way. shape or form. I also think about 2 other mom’s that I have had the privilege to console through their grief of the death of their child; such a difficult time of their lives. I like making a difference for other families that are experiencing what my family experienced through the loss of my baby brother because it’s that much more personal. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and views on this matter Molly. Grieving is crucial for the healing of a broken heart.

  5. Jeff Turner says:

    One of the most difficult aspects of our profession is being present first hand with families as they face the “more complicated” (if there is such a thing) circumstances surrounding death. For me it has been the deaths where a young child is affected by the death of a parent or the other way around.

    I have watched parents dress their child, hold their infant, weep at the casket unable to leave the graveside. I have had to walk out of rooms where significant sacred moments like these are taking place because my own tears cannot be stayed. I have been witness to children standing on tip-toes to look into the casket of their lifeless mom or dad and wonder how they can bear the pain, questions, uncertainty and shattered future.

    I watch and pray, helpless but not hopeless. Many around me have experienced these kinds of life altering earthquakes of loss and yet have navigated the pain. They have found ways to endure and overcome and yet they can still feel the sting of those first moments when they stepped over the threshold death took them through and look back with a different perspective that continues to evolve but never goes away.

    My heart breaks for these seemingly sadder circumstances where life is cut short. Expectations of the future seasons of life that most of us assume we will have and enjoy without fear or thought of suddenly ending do not cross our conscious mind except when it strikes close to home.

    Thank you for the reminder to pray for the moms, kids, family and friends who have paths to walk that we would all want to avoid.


    Jeff Turner

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