• Tara Shafer

Bereaved moms on Mother’s Day: 5 ways to tend a broken heart

Updated: Apr 2


As a bereaved mother who has, as well, three healthy children, I am here to issue forth a dispatch from the department of brutal truth: Many bereaved moms (with or without living children) have decidedly mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.I was going to say we “hate” the day but that’s not true. It’s more nuanced than that. Mother’s Day breaks us because it celebrates (in overly simple terms) the joy of motherhood. There is no wiggle room. It can feel oppressive. you know a woman who has lost a child it can be difficult to know how to acknowledge a day that celebrates motherhood in such amplified ways. Flowers and chocolate and indulgent massages – these are all part of the festive nature of the day.

But how to mark and celebrate the beauty of what was, along with the devastation of what was lost? This is hard. For women coping with loss, the contrast is both stark and crazy-making.

My mother has a friend whose daughter was killed in an accident when she was eighteen and on her way to study abroad. Once, while speaking on Mother’s Day, this woman wished my mother a happy Mother’s Day. My mother wished her the same. There was a pause.

My mother’s friend said, “But I’m not a mother anymore.”