Every year on the second Sunday in May, people in the United States celebrate Mother’s Day. On that day we celebrate the mothers, grandmothers, and other maternal figures in our lives. But for grieving mothers who have had a child die, this holiday can serve as a painful reminder of their loss.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
- How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Baby or Toddler
- How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Child or Teenager
- How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost an Adult Child
If you know a mother who lost a child, whether it was recently or long ago, you may not know what to say to them when this day rolls around. You might worry that you could trigger or exacerbate their Mother’s Day grief. But there are many kind and gentle ways to reach out to a grieving mother on this often difficult day. Here, we break down ways you can wish a grieving mother a special day as sensitively as possible.
How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
Many people who experience miscarriage and pregnancy loss suffer in silence and solitude. A lot of people understand that miscarriage can be as traumatizing as losing an already-living child. But not everyone does, and they might not treat pregnancy loss as seriously.
Also, many expectant parents go through miscarriages before their pregnancy was widely known. That gives them a much smaller support system to lean on. A person who lost a wanted child is still very much a parent. These sentiments help to express that.
“A mother is never defined by the number of children you see, but by the love she holds in her heart.”
This is a famous quote, though it is unattributed. Turning to find famous quotes about the loss of a child can be a really good jumping-off point for a sympathy message.
You could send this to a person who has experienced just one miscarriage or multiple. They may have also given birth to living children or they might not have. It’s such an inclusive message, that it really works for anyone who has endured a miscarriage.
“I’m thinking of you today, and wanted to let you know you and your family are on my mind.”
If you’re not sure the best way to reach out to a grieving mother, a text message is actually a great way to do it. On the surface, it might seem callous or impolite to just send a short text like this.
But it’s a great way to show your loved one you’re thinking of them without putting pressure on them. If they want to reply right away, they can. They can choose whether they’d like to call or text, or they can choose to just hold onto the message until they’re ready.
How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Baby or Toddler
There’s something so special about babies and toddlers. They’re already little people with their own personalities and thoughts and dreams. But they also have so much potential stretched out before them.
It can feel impossible to know what to say to someone who lost a baby or toddler. It’s an unfathomable kind of loss. But these caring words may help.
“[Name] may have only been with us for a short time, but they left such a large impression on our hearts. I wanted to let you know that we remember them and honor them alongside you.”
A lot of parents who lose a baby find that their friends and families tiptoe around using the child’s name. A lot of times people will do that because they feel awkward and don’t know what to say. But sometimes it’s because they genuinely believe just hearing their child’s name will hurt the parents.
They don’t realize that for most parents, it hurts more to feel like their child is being erased. Using the child’s name helps this message feel more urgent and personal.
“I lit a candle for [Name] today. They were like an angel on Earth.”
This kind of message is only appropriate in certain circumstances. Parents who follow a particular faith will likely find it very touching that you are remembering their child in your prayers. However, you must be sure that you understand the mother’s views on religion.
A gesture like this could cause offense to someone who is an atheist who has had traumatic experiences with the church. Even a devoutly religious person may find themselves having a crisis of faith after the loss of a child. If you have any doubts about the reception of this message, it’s best to stick to something more neutral or secular.
How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost a Child or Teenager
Children and teenagers alike occupy the liminal space between birth and adulthood. Massive growth, both physical and mental can happen on a day to day basis. It can be really difficult for a parent to lose a child at this age, just as they are on the cusp of growing up.
A Mother’s Day message like these may offer comfort to the mother of a deceased child or teen.
“This morning I spent some time looking through my memory box for [Name]. It brightened my day to see pictures of their smiling face. I hope you’re doing as well as you possibly can today, under the circumstances.”
If a very close friend or a family member lost a child that you knew well, the loss will obviously have a big impact on you too. You may even have personal items like photos of them or gifts they gave you.
If you’ve held onto mementos that remind you of someone’s child, it is a kindness to share that information with them. Knowing that there’s someone else with tangible reminders can help keep their child’s memory alive.
“I was thinking about you and [Name] today. They were such a special person. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to be a part of their life.”
This is a great opening message to send to someone who lost a teenager. The sentiment stands nicely on its own. But it can also serve as a jumping-off point for a longer conversation if your friend wants to talk about their child. The two of you can share memories of happier times together if they’re up for it.
How to Say Happy Mother’s Day to Someone Who Lost an Adult Child
Over thirty years ago, Canadian author Robert Munsch wrote the beloved children’s book Love You Forever. Throughout the story a boy’s mom repeats this refrain to him, even long after he’s grown:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”
The book has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide in multiple languages because it has such a universal message. Our children remain our children, no matter how old they grow up to be. And losing a child will always be a unique kind of pain, no matter how old they are when they pass.
“I know that no matter how many years go by, this day never gets easier for you. I’m here for you, and I will keep being here for you.”
Political matriarch Rose Kennedy endured an incredible amount of tragedy in her life. Out of her nine children, four died tragically and young. She famously said the following:
"It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone."
Even if someone lost a child many years ago the pain still lingers on. It’s important to remember to keep supporting our friends not just on the first Mother’s Day after their loss. Keep checking in on them as long as they need it.
“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”
Helen Keller knew a lot about loss. In the late nineteenth century, when she was just a toddler, she lost her hearing and her eyesight as the result of an illness. She sat locked within herself with no way to communicate with the people around her. Then a teacher named Annie Sullivan managed to adapt a sign language technique that worked for Keller.
Keller went on to become a prolific author and activist. This quote makes a beautiful message for a parent who has lost a child. It reminds them that their child will continue to live on through them.
Bringing Comfort and Peace to Grieving Mothers
When a child dies, we often reach out to the family in the immediate aftermath. We may drop off casseroles and send sympathy gifts for parents. We often continue reaching out, checking in on them when we can. But for everyone else, life will eventually move on. Even as grieving mothers are mired in sadness, the rest of us begin to go on again.
On Mother’s Day, take a few moments to remember the people who have a very different relationship to this day than you do. Take a few minutes to reach out and say a few words and honor the role that they will always hold, even if their child is no longer within reach.