By: Cathi Lammert
Often times Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two of the most difficult days for bereaved
parents. Some have told me that these days are so painful that they are not able to even acknowledge it
for their own mom or dad, and they celebrate with their parents on a different day. Over the years,
parents have looked at me with tear-filled eyes and asked me “Am I really a parent if my baby is not
here with me?” I equate parenthood with love; the greatest kind of love. Love doesn’t stop when a baby
dies? Of course not!
You will always be your child/ren’s parent. No one can take this role away from you.
You may question whether you have the right to celebrate or be remembered on these days, but a
parent’s love needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. If you can’t imagine joining the rest of the world in the typical activities of celebration, do something different or not at all. But also know, that even without your precious baby in your arms, you are parents and parenthood can be celebrated as you choose. Whatever you choose to do on these days, know that it is okay if it feels right to you.
The following suggestions are some ways to celebrate your parenthood on these difficult days:
• Acknowledge that you are parents.
• Be gentle with yourselves. Do only what you can handle. Acknowledge that this day could be
difficult and determine how you can comfortably spend the day.
• Alert yourself to the most difficult challenges of the day, such as attention given to moms and
dads at church. Some parents have talked to their clergy about the importance of recognizing
all parents at these celebrations.
• Family gatherings may make you feel uncomfortable. Discuss this with your family and let
them know that you appreciate their love and support, but that you may not be able to attend
or manage your composure throughout the entire day. Assure them that these feelings will not
• Plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute can cause frustration and hurt feelings.
• Share with family and friends how they can help make your day a special one. Sometimes they
need specific suggestions, such as sending you a card, flowers, or a donation to Share or another
favorite charity in your baby’s name.
• Treat yourselves to a special gift, an outing, or flowers.
• Remember your baby by lighting a candle, flowers on the dinner table, or planting a tree or bush.
It is important to tell others what you need. Do not assume that everyone will be aware of how you are
feeling on these days. Being aware in advance that certain situations may be difficult, such as family
gatherings or church services, allows you the opportunity to plan accordingly. If you’ve been asked to
do something that makes you uncomfortable, listen to your heart. For some, spending the day in bed
with the covers pulled up, or on the couch watching movies, might be the right thing. Be sensitive to
your own feelings and needs, and above all, know that you are parents.
About Cathi Lammert
For nearly four decades Cathi has been involved in the perinatal bereavement field. She has combined her experience as a bereaved parent since the death of her son Christopher at 4 days old with her professional obstetrics nursing career in her work. She served as National Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support’s Executive Director (1992-2013) and Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA) Founding Co-President, then another term as president and additional terms as a board member. She has been involved internationally in the perinatal bereavement field as an author, conference planner, consultant, contributor to position statements and articles, educator, not for profit management, support group management and most of all as a parent advocate. She believes the cornerstone of her commitment to this especially important work is time she has been privileged to spend with those who lives are touched by the death of a precious baby. They have been her best teachers.