Nurturing Your Heart on Mother’s Day 


Dear Heart, how are you feeling this week? 

Are you finding ways to support and comfort yourself through the sticky moments of this journey? 

There is a lot going on at the moment. This past Sunday marked ‘International Bereaved Mother’s Day’. It is also ‘Maternity Mental Health Week’ in various countries at the moment, and of course Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, 8th May. It can be a confusing and bittersweet period where we each do our best to walk the fine line between grieving loss and infertility, and celebrating motherhood/the mothers in our lives. 

In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more awareness around and consideration towards the infertility and pregnancy loss community. I’ve seen many touching posts offering support to women dealing with infertility and to those who’ve experienced losses on social media over the last week, as well as a lot more media coverage on these topics. A few companies have also shown some sensitivity with their email lists, giving subscribers the option to opt out of receiving any Mother’s Day related correspondence as they are aware that it was a difficult time for some.

I appreciate these small thoughtful gestures because they are indicators that wider society is acknowledging the emotional and mental impact of infertility and pregnancy loss. It gives me the sense that years of speaking out, educating and advocating for understanding and sensitivity towards women who struggle with infertility and how it affects their lives is paying off, is helping to shatter the silence, the stigma and the shame that often accompanies it. It opens up space for those of us who face infertility to feel seen and it says – ‘You’re not forgotten, your loss is not forgotten, we see your pain and you’re included in our societal narratives’. Being seen, acknowledged and included is profoundly healing in many ways. With this as a foundation, my hope is that it becomes easier to keep building forward, allowing women/couples to better access the support and resources that they need.

Nurturing Your Heart

Even so, this week may still be a challenging time that amplifies your hurt and sense of longing for motherhood. It also doesn’t erase the realities and the pain of your struggle that you face on a daily basis.

“Despite the overwhelmingly positive narrative of Mother’s Day that we see in commercials and advertisements, we know that this is a tough day for people experiencing infertility and loss. And it is important to remember that for many, this day is even more emotionally fraught if their own mothers have passed away, if they have conflictual or complicated relationships with their mothers or if they have one or more kids but have also lost pregnancies, infants or children. This day can catch us up in so many layers of sadness, anger, jealousy and profound grief.”  

~ Dara Roth Edney

So, I’ll offer this gentle reminder: Remember that you are not alone. You are entitled to your feelings, be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do things that nurture your wellbeing. If you feel the need to, then by all means, disconnect from social media and all the Mother’s Day messaging and take some time to do things that you enjoy. It is okay to set boundaries to protect your emotional health.

“Keep those rivers of self-compassion and love flowing over you, with an abundance of patience and kindness.”

~ Shannon, Mothering Your Heart

Three years ago, shortly after my ectopic pregnancy loss I came across a wonderful email series called Mothering Your Heart ( This email series was created as a support resource for women after pregnancy loss. Around Mother’s Day they sent out a series of soul soothing emails. These daily messages were beautiful anchors for grace and came with a workbook of journaling prompts. One of these writing prompts was about ascertaining the best way for you to access calm on Mother’s Day. They asked several questions along the following lines:

• What is the most soothing place I could physically be today?

• What is the most calming event I might include in my day?, and

• What is the most comforting music that I’d like to listen to today?

Just having these simple thinking points to guide me forward brought some ease to something that could have been much more emotionally challenging. The contemplations felt so healing to me. It gave me something different to focus on, allowing me to spend my weekend taking care of my own needs.  

“…be proactive about taking care of yourself. Take the time leading up to Mother’s Day to try and anticipate what will make the day or weekend harder, and then take steps to protect yourself.”

~ Dara Roth Edney

I’d thus like to encourage you to contemplate what your needs are right now and then investigate how you can nurture them this week. 

What is your heart calling for most at this time? 

How can you hold yourself in self-compassion? 

Don’t be afraid to give yourself these things. Set self-nurturing boundaries in order to prioritize your own needs if necessary. Set aside self-judgement and meet yourself with acceptance and compassion. Nurture yourself and your heart lovingly. 

I’ll end off by sharing a verse from a moving affirmation that I stumbled upon last year, as it really touched my heart. It is called ‘Mothering Heart’ by Carly Marie, and reads as follows:

“While I may not have any children here to raise on Earth, I became a mother the moment I opened my heart to the idea of bringing a child into this world. My mothering love has grown and blossomed since that day.”

Dealing with the Due Date After Loss

[Post originally written for and posted on’s SS&FE blog, August 2020: ]

“I wanted to find a way to remember her, to celebrate her short life, and to tell the world that she had been here and that she was loved. After all, isn’t this what we all want for our babies gone-too-soon?” ~ Liz Mannegren

The baby that we lost because of an ectopic pregnancy would have been due on my husband’s 40th birthday. This left me deeply conflicted and confused about how to deal with it all. For one, I’d wanted to do something to commemorate and honour our angel baby. At the same time, the last thing I wanted was for our loss to overshadow this significant milestone in his life. I’d planned to throw a big party to celebrate him and for him to spend the day surrounded by friends and family. I wanted him to know just how much we all loved and appreciated him. My husband had refused. He didn’t want a party. He wanted a simple beach gateway, just the two of us. 

I felt guilty about it for a long time. It was hard not to feel responsible for the situation. So, initially I resisted his request. I tried my best to convince him that we needed to have a big celebration. Still, he refused. In the end I accepted defeat and we booked a week long gateway at one of his favourite coastal cottages. Strangely, from the moment we arrived there, it became increasingly clear that it was actually precisely what we both needed. As my body relaxed and my breath synchronized with the calming rhythm of the waves, I quickly came to appreciate my husband’s wisdom and foresight. We didn’t know how we would feel on the day, but this was our happy place and was bound to offer us both some kind of healing and refuge.

When the day arrived, we did our best to find a healthy balance between celebrating my husband’s life and honouring that of the baby we’d lost. We accepted that even though we were enjoying our happy moments, there was a thread of sadness too. Our day began with a surprise sunrise picnic that I’d planned. We got to watch the sun ascend over the ocean as we enjoyed some good coffee, some fruit, cocktail snacks, and of course, a slice of birthday cake. After enjoying our little breakfast picnic alongside the stunning display that the morning sky offered, we headed down to the beach for the day. 

We could not have asked for better weather. It turned out to be a spectacularly sunny day. The late spring weather whispered to us that a sweltering summer was on its way. Down at the beach, I felt like a child again, frolicking in the waves and surrounded by a vast expanses of blue. The tide was in, so we took full advantage of the salt water pools, swimming and floating about. When we’d tired ourselves out, my husband and I found a nice quiet spot on the shore to settle down and soak up some sun. The beads of seawater speckled across my arms evaporated quickly. My heart was calm and every muscle was at ease. We sat in silence for a while, just watching the waves and sipping on the cathartic essence of the sea. Settled in our spot with sand between our toes, my husband and I spoke for a long time about the baby that we’d lost and how our ectopic pregnancy loss affected us. Then, we gathered two gull feathers that were close by. We each held a feather in our hand and set the intention to release whatever we felt most shackled by. The feather represented the things we felt ready to let go of. I focused on releasing the hurt, the guilt, the self-blame and the emotional weight that kept me stuck. When we were ready, we set our feathers free into the wind. We watched as they blew off into the mid-morning sky, carrying with them the things that we no longer needed. It was a lovely symbolic exercise that somehow felt like a positive step forward.

In addition to our private little beach ceremony, just before we left for our trip, we had had a tree planted in an indigenous forest in remembrance of the precious baby soul that we didn’t get to meet. The tree planting was part of a reforestation programme to restore certain parts of a 10,000-year-old forest landscape near the coast, so it seemed like a nice way to honour their memory. The thought of this tree growing and living for years to come gave me comfort. It satisfied the strong need we had to make sure that our baby’s presence wasn’t forgotten.

In an article by Bettina Rae, yoga instructor and author of ‘Watering the flowers: A guide to find healing and hope after losing a baby’, she says that “You definitely won’t feel like celebrating this date, but it’s important to find a way to honour your baby in some way. Every mother will be different in what she thinks is the way to commemorate her baby.” It is a very personal thing that needs to resonate with and feel right to you. Very importantly, remember to be kind to yourself. It isn’t an easy time, so allow yourself to practice self-care, as well as self-compassion. 

What helped you deal with a due date or anniversary of a pregnancy loss? How did you decide to honour your baby? The grieving process is different for everyone, so if you’re feeling uncertain about how to approach this difficult day, here are some ideas on how to honour your baby: 

  1. Light a candle. Take some time to reflect, grieve and process your loss. Write a letter to your baby. Talk about it with your partner, and give yourself the space to acknowledge and release whatever you need to.    
  1. Release a balloon. You can plan a small ceremony to release a balloon (or a few balloons) together with your partner or a close friend/family member. If you like, you can read a poem or say a few heartfelt words and then release the balloon.
  1. Get a piece of jewellery. You can get a special necklace, pendant, a charm or bracelet as a way to remember you baby. Some people choose an angel wing or a heart shaped pendant, others choose a gemstone for their particular birth month. If you like, you could also get a piece of personalised jewellery made in memory of your lost baby. 
  1. Plant a perennial plant or tree. Plant a tree or plant in your garden or have one planted at a nature park depending on what works best for you. Certain plants have specific meanings, some flower at particular times of the year. For instance, amaryllis where my grandfather’s favourite flowers. Shortly before he passed away, he got a few amaryllis bulbs for my grandmother to plant. She gave me a few of her bulbs to plant in my garden. These bulbs always bloom in September. September happens to be my grandfather’s birthday month, and the same month when he passed away. So whenever my amaryllis bloom, I think of and feel close to him.  

Creating Space to Grieve After Early Pregnancy Loss

Grief Releasing Ceremony

There was something about the rumbling thunder and the gloomy grey rain-soaked days that seemed to mirror the heaviness in my heart. Hurt and an overwhelming sadness permeated everything. As much as we’d tried to comfort one another, we just didn’t know how to move through the grief. I realised that I needed emotional assistance, so I began taking steps to get support.  In doing so, I came across a book by Zoe Clark-Coates called ‘The Baby Loss Guide’. In this book, Clark-Coates suggests having a ‘grief release ceremony’ or private memorial of sorts to honour the life of the baby that would have been as a way to bring closure and acceptance for you and your partner. Open to any advice that could guide us through the mourning process I discussed the idea with my husband. We decided that a release ceremony seemed like a worthwhile exercise for us to do.

So, one night we sat down together at our dining table. He held my hand as we took a few deep breaths to get centred. Doing our best to navigate the waves of emotions that seemed to be rising to the surface, we took turns to share what we were feeling. When we were ready, we each put pen to paper and individually wrote a letter to our baby. It was a pretty emotional experience. I poured my heart out, expressing how much I loved, wanted and missed my baby. I wrote about both my hurt and my gratitude for the few weeks of joy this pregnancy gave me before it all fell apart. Once we’d written the letters, we then went out onto the veranda where my husband and I lit some floating candles. We placed the candles in a bird bath full of cool water before gathering a few beautiful rose and orchid flowers.  We held each flower with the intention to release our grief and honour the life of our baby as we set them down into the water amidst the floating candles. 

It was moving and sad all at once, yet we both noticed how therapeutic having this ceremony was for us. In the days that followed my husband and I discussed the shift we felt in ourselves since that evening. It gave us closure and we’d felt a little lighter. 

The whole thing made me realise something. When you experience an early pregnancy loss, whether a miscarriage or an ectopic loss, you don’t always know how to process the pain and resultant grief. Couples usually don’t share the exciting news about their pregnancy until they’ve passed the 12 week mark. So, when a pregnancy loss happens, they go through it alone, uncertain of how to give context to the devastation they may feel. 

Writer, Lauren Patterson, discusses this in a poignant article titled Miscarriage and the 12 Week Rule: Carrying grief alone ( where she highlights that there is a general protocol followed when a loved one dies – condolences are offered and there is a funeral service where respects are paid and the life of the deceased is celebrated. Unfortunately, we don’t have a process like this when it comes to early pregnancy loss. When no one knows that you were pregnant, your loss goes virtually unacknowledged and as a consequence you may even struggle to give yourself permission to grieve. In the end, you’re left bereft and carrying unresolved sorrow. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that topics like miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies are not spoken about much, something that contributes to the shroud of secrecy, shame and feelings of isolation for couples going through a loss.   

Miscarriage is death before life. Often times, it is death that only one person feels or even knows about, and carries alone.”

 ~ Lauren Patterson

Coming to this understanding motivates me to keep sharing my experiences. For one, talking about the tough things creates awareness and understanding so that people feel less isolated in their struggles. In addition to this, raising the sensitivity around what women go through when they experience early pregnancy loss also ensures that they are better able to access the kind of support that they need to move through it all.  

Give Yourself Space to Grieve and Release

Have you experienced an early pregnancy loss? How did you create space for your own healing? What helped you process your grief?

Going through such a traumatic experience will naturally have a significant emotional impact on you. The initial days and weeks are the hardest. On some days, the grief of your loss is completely debilitating. Other days you may find it easier to breathe. Don’t hesitate to seek out counseling if need be. Give yourself permission to take it one day at a time, moment to moment, bearing in mind that you’re grieving the loss of your baby, and perhaps the trauma of a loss of certain physical aspects which represent a part of your fertility too (a fallopian tube, or ovary, or both tubes) in the case of an ectopic pregnancy loss. Healing is a gradual process where your need to allow yourself room to process your experiences and work through the various stages of grief as they surface. 

As I found in my own case, a closure or grief release ceremony as suggested by Zoe Clark-Coates is a worthwhile and therapeutic exercise to help bring some level of emotional relief. 

And when the going gets tough and you can’t see a way forward, ask yourself: 

‘What is the most healing or nurturing thing that I can do for myself right now?’ 

Then focus on taking that small step for the moment until you have the strength and presence of mind to move forward.

[Post was originally written for and posted on the’s SS&FE blog October 2019: ]