Grief and Mother’s Day


This is actually a birthday photo… but I imagine Mother’s Day was not too different

You can’t escape Mother’s Day for most of the month of April and for someone like me, whose mother has died, it can be a tough time.  My email gets inundated with special gift ideas for mothers, my local restaurants advertise Mother’s Day brunch special, and flowers are on on sale everywhere. offers Mother’s Day gift ideas and even my local grocery store has an end cap display with Mother’s Day Gifts.

From what I gather, mothers like:  jewelry (especially if there is a charm that says “Mom”, or has diamonds–well , duh!), flowers,  beauty products, and vacuum cleaners (the new Miele is only $329!!).  And who knew so many mothers like to garden!

My inner 13-year old, the young teen whose mother died, wants to topple those displays and scream NOT EVERYONE HAS A MOTHER and my more grown-up, grief aware self–well, my heart hurts for my fellow motherless daughters and sons, for the kids I used to work with at the Children’s Grief Center who lost mothers, for friends who have lost mothers at whatever age, for friends of friends, for writers who’ve experience mother loss, for mothers who have lost children…

I used to focus on how unfair life is, how unfair it is to ME because my mom died.  Admittedly, I still think life is unfair, but at least I now understand that I am not the only one.  This is one of the reasons I “like” to read about other people’s experience with grief whether it’s the loss of a spouse, a sibling, a child, a friend…   reading about these experiences reminds me that I am not alone.

So in honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing some of my favorite essays (in no particular order) about Mother’s Day and grief, mothers and grief, from advice to gut-wrenching, nostalgic (in a good way), and even funny:

From Monica Wesolowska, “Seven Ways to Support a Bereaved Mother” and “Clinging to Each Other We Survived the Storm”

From Kate Spencer, “How I’m Making Mother’s Day My Bitch”

From Leslea Newman, “Like Mother Like Daughter”

“All is Forgiven Between Us,” by Joanna Chen

And from the doyenne of motherless daughters, Hope Edelman, “A Mother’s Day Letter to Motherless Daughters.”  Note:  I carried Hope’s book, Motherless Daughters with me for years before I actually read it…. I learned so much about the affects of loss on my own life I wish I’d been ready to read it sooner.

One of my all-time favorite essays about mother loss (and so much more): Cheryl Strayed’s, “The Love of My Life” 

Eighteen Attempts at Writing About a Miscarriage” by Alice Bradley published in The Sun magazine

The Caregiver Chronicles” by Barbara Graham (published as “The Belle of Pittsburgh” in Exit Laughing anthology)

Finding My Marathon Legs” by Rob Hoerberger (New York Times, November 1, 2012)

The Long Goodbye” by Meghan O’Rourke on Slate

From Emily Rapp: A New Baby Doesn’t, and Shouldn’t, Replace What’s Lost

So to those of us who have experienced the loss of a mother and mothers who have experienced the loss of a child, Happy Mother’s Day.

(and please feel free to add  your “favorite” essays about mothers and grief)

About Jennifer Simpson

Writer, marketing consultant, community builder and teacher. Director of DimeStories International, where authors share their 3-minute stories at open mic events and online. Publisher and editor of the I WRITE BECAUSE project. Find out more at
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