For moms who have lost a baby to due Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, stillbirth or miscarriage holidays are never easy. Probably one of the most difficult is Mother’s Day. My son was born in April of 1997 and died from SIDS August of the same year. For one year I had my baby with me and I couldn’t have been more excited and proud to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. The following year I was still a mom but I no longer had my baby here on earth and it was heartbreaking. My friends and family didn’t know what to say. They felt uncomfortable wishing me Happy Mother’s Day for fear it would upset me. As if I could be any more upset than I already was.
Every year there are 27,000 cases of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths and stillbirths which means another 27,000 moms will be celebrating Mother’s Day without their baby. If you know or are one of these moms, here are some tips on coping with Mother’s Day.
Be selfish – Just as there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, there’s no right or wrong way to deal with this holiday. If you feel like staying in bed all day and eating ice cream go for it. If a day at the spa will make you feel better book it today. Treat yourself to a piece of jewelry that will have a special significance for the day. Perhaps being out in nature will allow you to feel closer to your baby. If you want to be alone, don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong. It’s your day.
Start a tradition – Creating a tradition to honor your baby on Mother’s Day will help keep his memory alive and make the day special. Perhaps it’s visiting a park, writing a letter, planting a flower or, if your artistic painting or drawing.
Be honest about your feelings – Mother’s Day is especially tough if you have other kids. They try so hard to please you and make you happy but at some point, all you want to do is cry. That’s OK. Not only is it unhealthy to keep your feelings bottled up inside but it’s important for your kids to see that grownups get sad and it’s OK to express your feelings.
Ask for support – First Candle has a grief support line (1-800-221-7437) available to anyone who has lost a baby from SIDS, accidental suffocation, stillbirth and miscarriage. We also have online Facebook support groups and peer support volunteers. We always say that it’s the club that no one wants to belong to but we are always there for each other.
Make healthy choices – Sometimes the anticipation leading up to the day is just as bad as the day itself. It’s tempting to use alcohol or drugs to ease the pain but ultimately it only causes greater problems. Instead, consider meditation, massage with essential oils or even exercise to kick up endorphins.
While the pain never completely goes away it does get better. First Candle is always here to listen and offer comfort.