What to say to a mother who has lost a child
An open letter to moms everywhere
Content Editor / August 22 2018
US Kindergarten teacher Rachel Whalen recently penned an emotional letter to the children who won’t start school because they have passed on.
Now the mum of two has written an open letter to mums everywhere, asking them if they can “open your arms a little wider for the moms who are missing their babies.”
Rachel’s first daughter, Dorothy, passed away in 2016, and she decided to share some advice for mothers who may not know what to say to a mum who is grieving.
“It can be hard to know the mothers whose motherhood is invisible because you can't see what's not there,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.
“You may not give a second thought to the moms who don't show up to playgroup but who have said goodbye to their reasons for going. You might not know who they are, but you can still hold space for them."
She shares sage advice for speaking to a mum who has lost a child, encouraging mothers to keep listening, and not to change the subject.
“Instead of asking questions like ‘How many children do you have?’ You could ask, ‘Are you a mom, too?’ If a mom senses your compassion and decides to open up, please be ready to listen. Don't suddenly shift your gaze or change the subject. Stay with us,” she advises.
“Please be careful when you meet a woman with no visible children. Before you ask, ‘Don't you want kids?’ remember that whether she does or not, having babies isn't always possible in the way we imagined as little girls.”
The mum of two also says it’s important to realise motherhood comes in many forms.
“Motherhood is loving a child,” she writes. “True motherhood exists in anyone who has ever made room for a child in their heart. It's amazing to think of just how many mothers are out there in our world. There are mothers everywhere and they could use some support.
And they could use it from someone just like you.”
Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.