What to Say (and Never Say) to Women on Mother’s Day

Jennifer Minnite's book Butterflies from Heaven

Jennifer Minnite’s book Butterflies from Heaven

Typically Mother’s Day is filled with flowers, smiles, and champagne brunches. But for the millions of women who suffered the loss of their child, Mother’s Day is no picnic. Friends and family are often at a loss on how to handle the situation.

Everyone has good intentions and wants to be supportive. But, what is appropriate? And what – even unintentionally – hurts more than helps? Should you send a Mother’s Day card? Or let it roll by without mention for fear of doing the wrong thing?

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Bereaved mother and author of Butterflies from Heaven, Jennifer Minnite offers concerned friends and family heartfelt advice on what to say to women on Mother’s Day who have lost their child:

  • Do call her before Mother’s Day to send love and support. Often the week before Mother’s Day is worse than the day itself.
  • Do offer to take her out before Mother’s Day for time away. She might be dreading May 11 and welcomes a distraction.
  • Do send a Mother’s Day card with a loving message that acknowledges her as a mother. Even though she lost her child, she is still a mother.

  • Don’t ignore Mother’s Day for fear of upsetting her. Even if she “can’t talk about it”, your loving acknowledgment will be felt in her heart.
  • Don’t feel responsible to make it all better and overdo it. Ask her how she would like to spend Mother’s Day. Support her in doing that.
  • Don’t give advice on how to handle Mother’s Day. Her grief journey is a personal process. Sometimes all she needs is a hand to hold.

Jennifer Minnite’s book Butterflies from Heaven is available in 22 Kaiser Permanente hospital bookstores and online.

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She penned Butterflies from Heaven after going through the grief process when her newborn son passed away.

Mother’s Day is celebrated to honor mothers and their influence in society. It is celebrated on different days in different parts of the world.

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