by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC
The month of May in many countries recognizes and celebrates mothers. Although often times considered a “Hallmark Holiday,” it is good that we recognize moms. This holiday can be challenging for some people who cannot be moms, who have lost their mom, or maybe never knew or had a bad relationship with their mom. So many dynamics are involved; but keeping the focus and perspective on the positive, celebrating moms is a good thing. Years ago, I posted on Facebook, “Happy Mother’s Day to all the overachieving, slacker, just getting by, fun, strict, and average moms. You are all doing great. For those moms who have lost children, I’m sending you a hug. For those moms who could never have children but take on a role in other people’s children’s lives, it’s not the same but embrace the love. It’s not about perfect, it’s about love and connection.” I truly meant this because I know these days can be hard. So many people thanked me for being sensitive to the challenges of that day for them. I hope that we can always be sensitive to others. This doesn’t mean giving up what is important to us, it just means being aware of others. In light of the above, in May, International Bereaved Mother’s Day has been added to the calendar. This is the first Sunday in May and is set aside to give some recognition, love, and support to those who have lost a child. For some, that loss is never being able to conceive a child, much less carry to term. For others it might be early miscarriage, stillborn or infant death. For some, myself included, it’s the loss of an older child. Any and all of these situations, the loss is about grieving the future and what might have been. I’ve had a lot of bereavement training and I have personal experience in this area. So I want to remind people of a couple of very helpful things to say (because I know, it’s hard to know what to say).
- What was his/her name?
- What did you hope for them?
- What was your favorite feature or trait about them?
- What color was his/her hair?
- What do you miss?
Pick your questions based on the situation. Each of them are open ended enough that it allows for the grieving person to give as much or as little information as they choose. May also recognized Mental Health generally, and Maternal Mental Health specifically. As someone who has worked with our local Postpartum Support International Chapter, I am so glad to see that postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) are being recognized and validated. We still have a lot to do; mini steps in what I remind myself when things don’t move as fast as I want. If you don’t know a lot about PMAD, I encourage you to find some education. We will accept up to 12 hours of CE’s related to mental health from recertification. As I write this, we are beginning Nurses Week. A huge shout out to all of our Certified Professionals and Members who are also nurses! You are all appreciated. Working in health care these past two years has been different; it’s been hard. And yet so many showed up every day and gave the care, comfort, compassion, and encouragement that our patients needed so much. Thank you for that. Along with Nurses, we also celebrate Midwives. I am sure that like me, many of you really appreciate the midwives who work in your communities. The care they provide is invaluable to so many families. In closing, I’d again like to remind you of the work that is going on at ICEA. The Board is working on many projects. They all take time but soon you will be seeing some great updates and additions. We are here to serve you and make this organization the very best.