When Mother’s Day is Hard: For Those Who Have Lost Their Mother or Child


Mother’s Day.


Perhaps at one time, maybe just last year, this was a day full of flowers, hugs, laughter & good food.

It’s astonishing what a death can take away from us, that even a holiday like this, once so simple and sweet, can become dreaded and excruciating days of mourning.

Paulo Coelho

Photo Credit: kayumac.tumblr.com

Writing for a mortuary blog, I feel I have the special privilege to get to speak to the bereaved, to write about, confront, and open up these sorrowful topics that are so tremendously important.

There are two main groups of people I am thinking of as I write this blog:

Children who have lost their mother and have no one to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” to.


Mothers who have lost children and who will be missing that sweet voice saying,

“I love you, Mom”

As a friend of a grieving person, there is most likely nothing you can do to somehow make this Mother’s Day feel wonderful and just like previous years. What you can do is extend love to your friend, talk about the mother or child that is missing. Acknowledging the loss is something we are often afraid to do because we think, “oh, if I say her name it will just make my friend sad,” the truth is, they are already thinking of and missing these people and likely wondering if anyone else is, too. Showing someone you remember is a precious gift to them.

This is my grief

“Heaven and earth may separate us today, but nothing will ever change the fact that you made me a mom”
Photo Credit: Beth Morey

As a mother who is grieving a child (of any age), Mother’s Day will require a tremendous amount of strength and patience as you encounter others who don’t know what to say and then, perhaps say the wrong thing. You are in a particularly difficult grief that no one should ever have to face.

As a child whose mother is no longer living, it will be hard to see others enjoying their mothers while you are grieving that special relationship.

But what can you do to remember your loved one this Mother’s day? You will know what is best for you, if there are lines you don’t want to cross or perhaps special traditions saved for this day.

–       Write them a letter recalling special memories, some of their unique quirks, and things that their life added to yours.

–       Journal/Think through the questions: 
“How do you make sense of all this?” “What are the lessons for you?” “How are you different because of your loved one’s life and death?”

I remember you mom

Photo Credit: www.tinkerbell-nl.blogspot.com

–       GO – Get out of your house and visit one of your loved one’s favorite spots. Maybe there’s a bench in Dana Point that you both loved sitting at, a favorite meal at a café, a great ice cream spot, whatever it is, getting out can be a very positive and refreshing addition to your day.

–       Seek out support from others going through similar losses. We have a large representation of local support groups represented on our website, many churches can provide you with personal pastoral care and our resident expert, Becky Lomaka, can guide you to a group specific to you (email Becky at: blomaka@oconnormortuary.com).

 I want to say that only you can really know what is going to help you or hurt you as you go through Mother’s Day. Taking care of yourself is the goal here and grieving actively can be part of that but consider what you want to do carefully and without any guilt pulling at you. You will make it through this, and since you have to, I hope you can customize this Mother’s Day with what’s best for You.

Who are you grieving this Mother’s Day?

How will you be remembering them this year?

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hi, I’m Molly and I write for the blog here at O’Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who’s deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try.
Work at O’Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.
I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

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  • Kasey

    My mom has been gone now for 12 years… she was beautiful, strong, funny, classy and taught me well.
    My friends still talk about Bee Scott…… I was way too young to lose her. Bee Scott had that special knack of driving me absolutely crazy in 45 min flat. It must have been that mother / daughter thing. Who knows but she was very good at it. I miss that. The month of May is often tough since my moms birthday is also in May. This year it falls on Mother’s Day. She will be celebrated.

    • Wow Kasey. So glad you can look back on her with so much admiration and warmth. I love what you said about her, that she could drive you crazy – I think many mothers have moments like that but we will even miss those when they’re gone.

      Thank you for sharing your story, I’d love to know how you remembered & celebrated her. I hope you came upon some good old memories : )

  • Carrie Bayer

    Molly, this is amazing. You know exactly what to say & HOW to say it. Mother’s Day is always a tough one for me- I’m a mother but have nothing to show for it. However, my awesome & beautiful niece made me a Mother’s Day card two years ago & I love it so much it still hangs on my fridge. Thank you for this blog, Molly! XOXOX Carrie

    • Carrie, you were my inspiration in adding to the blog “mother’s who have lost their children” – what a very real pain that is in need of so much more acknowledgement than it gets.

      I love that your niece made you that card, my aunts are like moms to me, too – I know how she feels about you and that is such a special thing. Love you so much & am so glad that this meant something to you!

  • Ms. Fran Cantor


    You have touch many “Hearts” with this blog. We all Thank you for letting us express
    feelings that we all hold back and for me I believe by expressing one emotions brings closer.
    I miss my Mother Dearly. May she have found peace with our Lord. Manny years have pass.
    My Treasure Dear Mother was a fabulous cook,Sunday was family day we all stay home
    for My Dad to be with him with a full course meal. Then we all play games after dinner.
    Saturday we are celebrating four Mothers, with Fabulous Mexican Food. Blessing to you. +

    • Thank you for reading Franny and telling us about some of the things that made your mother so special. So glad you got to celebrate her with food & family – there’s nothing better : )

  • Mary Ann

    Although I celebrate my daughter’s and daughter in law’s motherhood and the beautiful grandchildren they have blessed us with, I miss my own Mother very much. I would like her to know how I did as a mother; I think she would be very proud. Also, I am filled with sadness for the child I lost in a miscarriage. Although is has been more than 30 years I still wander if I would have had a boy or girl and where their life would have taken them.

    • Mary Ann, I am so sorry for the losses in your life that have left you with the wonder and longing that you have. We always want our parents around to see how well we’ve done and I’m sure parenting is one of the things in your life that you are the most proud of.
      You are one of the women I wrote this blog for, I can’t imagine what you’ve been through in the loss of your child and subsequently, of that life with them.
      I hope that you were able to have some time to contemplate these two very important people in your life and see how they have impacted who you are today.

      Thank you so very much for sharing your story and opening up with honesty about your grief. This is a safe place and we care about your heart. You’re in our thoughts –


  • Hi Molly –

    Thank you for having the courage to write this blog. I am grateful that you have such deep insight to our friends and family who grieve on Mother’s Day. Life is short & sweet, we will never get over losing our Mothers’ or Children, we can only hope and pray that we can honor their memories and live life to the fullest.