Mother’s Day is usually a time for celebration—chocolates, flowers and breakfast in bed.
But for many mothers who have experienced a death of a baby, it can be an insolating and intensely painful time filled with sorrow and grief.
An estimated one in six Australian mothers have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Each year 1724 babies are stillborn in Australia and a further 700 die in the days or weeks following birth. It is estimated that 103,688 pregnancies in Australia each year end in miscarriage .
Here are some ideas from bereaved mums on how to cope this Mother’s Day if your baby is not here to celebrate with you.
Coping on Mother’s Day after the death of a baby
Be gentle to yourself
You may feel a range of emotions, from sadness, anger and guilt to feeling at peace. This is normal. Give yourself time and space to feel whatever you are feeling. Go for a walk, look at pictures of your baby—do whatever makes you happy.
“Do whatever you need to survive the day: laugh, cry, run away, celebrate— anything you need is OK. Be gentle with yourself and remember that your motherhood still counts, even if your child is no longer here.” – Larissa
Lean on family and friends
Spend time with family and friends who understand. Talk about your baby, you may find that hearing your baby’s name can be soothing. If you want to just be on your own that is OK too.
“The advice I’d give to friends and family supporting a bereaved mum this Mother’s Day is to please remember her and her child. Even though her baby has died, she is still a mother and deserves to be recognised. Send a card, flowers or even a short text to let her know you are thinking of her. A big fear of bereaved mums is that our children and motherhood will be forgotten, so let us know that this is not the case.” – Larissa
Honour your baby
Give a donation, light a candle or plant a tree. Doing something to honour your baby’s memory can be comforting.
“I found the first Mother’s Day after Charlotte died the hardest. I was a mother without a child, so there was no recognition in the community of me being a mother and part of Mother’s Day. I asked my husband to buy me a small gift from Charlotte. This has now become a tradition for us, always including Charlotte’s name in cards. I also make sure I take some time out during the day to think about Charlotte – looking at her pictures and adding a small gift to her memory box. It is the way I acknowledge that I am still her Mother.”
Write a letter
Many mums find that writing a letter to their baby is a powerful way to express and work through their feelings.
Speak to a Sands Parent Supporter
Talking to someone who can relate can be very helpful. The Sands Support line is available 24/7 for anyone affected by the death of a baby. All Sands Parent Volunteer Supporters have been through the devastating loss of baby. They are on hand to support you this Mother’s Day and every other day.
– written with information from SANDS
Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, information and hope to parents and families who experience the death of a baby. All Sands Parent Supporters understand the heartbreak and devastation that follows the death of a baby, as they too have experienced it. Sands also offers resources and education for healthcare professionals. Visit www.sands.org.au