7 Ways To Talk To A Mother Who Has Lost Her Child

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
By Monica Wesolowska

I received a postcard from my sister on my first Mother’s Day after giving birth.

She’d sent it from Brazil. It was a postcard for tourists — a beautiful, black-and-white image of two boys sitting on a wall looking out to sea. On the flip side, my sister had written, “Happy Mother’s Day. You’re a mother now. And a wonderful mother who did all the right things for her son.” She’d sent it even though my son was gone. He’d died of brain damage at 38 days.

When I found that postcard recently, preserved amongst condolence cards, I remembered how grateful I felt. Condolence cards matter. People should write them. But so many of them said “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” that after a while, I’d begun to feel unimaginable to myself. In my grief, who was I? My sister’s postcard brought me back. She saw me as I needed to be seen — as a mother, like any other.

Bereaved mothers are everywhere. We’ve suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. We’ve lost children to accidents and diseases. We’ve given up children for adoption, or had our children taken from us in other ways. Though we all grieve differently, we all grieve because we love. The absence of our children doesn’t change that.

So if a mother’s grief feels unimaginable to you, imagine her love instead. Though you may never learn how much it helps, your effort matters. If you’re unsure how to start, here are sevens tip to try.