Mother's Day With Empty Arms

by Clara Hinton

grieving woman Experiencing a miscarriage is devastating. Hopes and dreams of a baby are snatched away so suddenly. Many mothers have an extremely difficult time accepting the fact that one day there was a baby growing inside of them, and the next day the baby is gone.

Facing special holidays without a baby is terribly painful, often causing a heightened grief. One of the most painful of all holidays to face with empty arms is Mother's Day.

There is no simple solution for decreasing the emotional pain of child loss, especially during a holiday such as Mother's Day that is specifically designed to honor mothers. A mother can, however, make some preparations for that day in an attempt to work through her grief rather than facing this holiday with an anticipated dread.

Probably the best gift a mother can give herself is the acknowledgment that she is a mother, even though she is not carrying her baby around in her arms. Most friends and many family members will avoid the topic because it makes them feel too uncomfortable. However, a mother can plan ahead for this holiday by letting others know of her wishes to be included among those being honored as mothers.

If a mother who has suffered a miscarriage feels uncomfortable about being given a flower in church, or by attending a Mother's Day banquet, then she can substitute other activities that make her feel more comfortable during this difficult time.

Mother's Day is a great time for a husband and wife to spend time together talking about their loss and what the baby meant to them. Perhaps a planned walk in the park seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of nature -- God's creation -- will be what a mother needs as her special encouragement. This is a good reminder that God has not abandoned them in their grief.

A husband and wife can verbalize their lost dreams together. There is great healing within a marriage when a husband and wife can talk together about their baby. This is another way of allowing a mother who has miscarried to really "feel" like she is a mother. Validation is an important part of grief healing, and is so important on a holiday such as Mother's Day.

If you have not named your baby who was lost to miscarriage, Mother's Day is a great day to think about doing this. There is healing in giving your child a name. Often fathers will not be ready to do this, or they might not see a reason to name a miscarried child. A mother can name her baby and keep the name in her heart. She needs to hear words other than "it", "tissue", or "fetus". There is something very special when a mother can call her child by name.

Finally, a mother who has miscarried should give herself permission to do what feels best for her heart to do on Mother's Day. She can write a love letter to her baby. Perhaps she will want to plant a flower in memory of her baby. She might want to plan a time for a balloon release on Mother's Day, giving her baby permission to "be away" while she remains the child's mother.

Mother's Day is not a day to mask feelings. By planning ahead to do just one thing that will validate being a mother, Mother's Day will have special meaning, and moving ahead in the slow, difficult journey of grief can continue in a very positive way.

Clara HintonClara Hinton is a Certified Grief Facilitator, founder of The Silent Grief Website, and the author of four books, including Silent Grief. She is the author of a weekly newletter and has contributed to Christian Woman and Church and Family magazines. Clara speaks on college campuses on grief and is a keynote speaker at women's retreats. She has been interviewed on radio stations across the nation and appeared on various TV programs. Clara is a stay-at-home mother of eleven children and wife of 31 years.

copyright © Clara Hinton. Permission to republish granted to


So this is my first time at this site and the first article I clicked on. I'm annoyed that the article references miscarriage and doesn't mention stillbirth. There is a big difference between delivering a full term baby who is not alive and having an early miscarriage.

My son was stillborn at 35 weeks. I'm pregnant with my third now. I do feel for people who have had a miscarriage but it is not the same so they shouldn't use the terms interchangeably.