International Bereaved Mother's Day
(Also known as International Babylost Mother's Day)
International Bereaved Mother's Day is observed next on Sunday, May 7th, 2023 (151 days from today).
International Bereaved Mother’s Day is celebrated every Sunday before Mother’s Day for all mothers who have lost a child.
A mother can lose her baby to a variety of causes, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or death. There may also be mothers who struggle to get pregnant. These grieving mothers can feel hurt, unworthy, lonely, and isolated. In response to that, we celebrate International Bereaved Mother's Day so these mothers feel that they are important and loved by the world. On this day, people from all over the world conduct various activities dedicated to making mothers of bereaved feel special.
History of International Bereaved Mother's Day
Mother's Day honors mothers all over the world, but there are many women who may feel left out on this day. They may have experienced the death of a baby or infant or even adult children. They may have struggled to get pregnant, or suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. For them, this day can bring feelings of sadness - feelings of isolation, loneliness, unworthiness and pain.
Anna Jarvis was the founder Mother's Day in 1908 that was a special gift for her mother. Ann gave birth to about a dozen children, and only four of them survived to adulthood. So the first mother to be honored on Mother's Day is a bereaved mother, and Mother's Day is connected with a story of loss, one that many mothers have experienced. Their grief of loss is most intense on Mother's Day.
Carly Marie Dudley created International Bereaved Mother's Day in 2010, a few years after her stillborn child Christian. She wants to help heal the hearts of other hurting mothers. She believes that Mother's Day should include everyone who has experienced a loss, as well as those who have been unable to conceive. Therefore, it aims to change Mother's Day so that it includes those who feel left out. Dudley wanted International Bereaved Mother's Day to be a temporary holiday and for traumatized mothers that would eventually become part of Mother's Day.
The Importance of International Bereaved Mother’s Day
You may have noticed Mother's Day ads plastered on every available sign and window front in the last month. Marketers won't let you forget the memory of your mother, grandmother and the mother of your children, especially if it's you! However, these advertisements can cause painful reactions in some women and couples, which is one of the key reasons why International Bereaved Mother’s Day is so important.
This celebration doesn't usually get much coverage in the mainstream media, but is significant for the countless people grieving for a child.
International Bereaved Mother's Day was initiated by Carly Marie Dudly in Australia and has been responded by people around the world. This year, the day of remembrance takes place on May 7, a week before the traditional Mother's Day. This is a day for parents who have lost a child, and in particular, it honors mothers who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or any type of pregnancy and missing babies.
Motherhood is complicated.
Even if you've never lost a baby, being a mom is the hardest and best job - and I know this from experience! I also feel how it feels if you lose a child. My second child, whom my husband and I named Zachary, was 25 weeks pregnant when the doctors announced that Zach had a random genetic abnormality that allows tumors to grow in his body. It was the moment where all the sleepless nights and frustrations of raising my daughter, then a year old, came into perspective. That's when I learned the depth of a mother's heartbreak and also a mother's love.
Zachary was born and died at thirty-week gestation.
It was the hardest season of my life, and the years that followed were a challenging and painful battle. Raising my daughter, Hannah, was difficult. Grief took all my strength, and I tried to suppress my anguish so that Hannah wouldn't see me cry. In the end, I realized that genuine grief was a healthy thing for her to witness and now, at seven years old, she is one of the most empathetic people I know.
After Zach’s death, Mother’s Day was a reminder for me about him and the future we had lost.
At the same time, my sadness made me hug Hannah tighter and yearn for another baby. Sure, Mother's Day is a series of mixed emotions, and I soon realized that some people don't feel comfortable with that. So, International Bereaved Mother's Day is a godsend, for me and for many others.
International Bereaved Mother's Day is an opportunity for moms grieving for their children to be open about all they’ve endured.
They can talk about their birth experiences, what their dead children looked like, the dreams they had for their families, and how they might have been traumatized. Women who have lost children and have no living children can be recognized as their mothers, even without children in their arms. The day is a celebration and a day of remembrance.
Opening up the conversation around grief and loss is essential to encouraging healthy expressions of pain, sadness, and ultimately healing.
In my experience, the discomfort from others on the subject of death is intense. Through the loss of Zachary, I have learned that sharing stories is key for families to turn their grief into happy and peaceful memories. This starts at home with mom, dad, grandparents, children and friends. With one in five pregnancies having a miscarriage and one in 100 stillbirths, there are many stories to be shared. There are many babies to be remembered. And, especially around Mother's Day, so many mothers who have passed away will be noted.
Why we celebrate International Bereaved Mother’s Day
Here are the main reasons why you should celebrate International Bereaved Mother’s Day that has passed:
- To help a friend
You may have a friend who is a bereavement of your mother. If so, you should celebrate this day to help this friend of yours deal with the loss and enjoy a special day dedicated to her and her healing heart.
- To help a family member
Do you have any relative or a family member who is a bereaved mother? This is all the more reason for you to celebrate this day - so you can use it to help your loved one heal from the loss of a child.
- To help myself
Perhaps you are a bereaved mother yourself. It's normal to feel grief over the loss of a child. Feeling lonely on Mother's Day is also normal. But you can't punish yourself forever. You are surrounded by many friends and family who always appreciate you for being such a good mother. Therefore, you should celebrate this day to help yourself heal and move towards more positive things in life.
How to celebrate International Bereaved Mother's Day
Although International Bereaved Mother's Day is still in mourning, it occurs a week before Mother's Day, but in many ways it is celebrated on Mother's Day, with the goal of including mothers who have died on the day. Honor International Bereaved Mother's Day and Mother's Day by recognizing the women in your life who have experienced the loss of a child or difficulty conceiving. They deserve to be recognized and loved just like other mothers. Listen to their stories if they want to share and don't be afraid to say their child's name. Many people believe that the child should not be named because it will remind the mother of what happened. But, a child who is no longer on this earth is never far from the mother's mind. Mothers often don't want their children to be forgotten, so naming them can be a gift for moms.
You can honor a friend or family member's child by doing something in their memory. Plant a tree for the children, or have a tree for the mother to plant in their honor. You can give the mother commemorative jewelry with the child's name on it, or jewelry with a loving heart if the child has never been named. You can also donate to a charity in honor of someone you know and their child.
If you've suffered the loss of a child, spend the day doing things to comfort yourself and the things you enjoy. If that means being with others today or on Mother's Day then do it; If it means not going to a Mother's Day gathering, do it. Do whatever feels right for you. If you need to seek support, whether from family, friends, people online who have had similar or professional experiences, do so; it is a healthy part of the healing process. You can also remember and pay tribute to your child in some way. Do something in their honor, or create a special place in your home where they are remembered.
ObservedInternational Bereaved Mother's Day has been observed the first Sunday in May.
Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
Sunday, May 1st, 2022
Sunday, May 7th, 2023
Sunday, May 5th, 2024
Sunday, May 4th, 2025
Carly Marie Dudley in 2010