Grief Calligraphy by ©

Why you will never fully understand my grief experience as a bereaved mother

April 5, 2017

Grief Calligraphy by ©

The experience of every bereaved mother (or father) is unique and so is their grieving experience. You can never fully understand another bereaved mother’s experience, even if you sit with her through the dark of the night, talk to her for hours, cry endless tears in compassion. I’ve tried. And I might have one advantage: I myself am a bereaved mother.

Let go

As much I have been hoping that I could, I can’t fully understand what another bereaved parent is going through. I still do my best at understanding the bereaved families I’m working with and according to them, I’m doing a great job but I have let go of the unattainable: to totally and utterly understand their despair.

In that letting go, there is something else that opens up, something with far greater potential. Rather than trying to enter their experience and in that wondering how that would feel within me, I stay with them. It takes courage and compassion to totally be with someone else, without an ounce of the self who is ‘wanting to make it better for them’ or ‘helping’ them. After all that’s my job, supporting them in finding healing. But here is the thing: the pain of missing someone who is no longer physically present is not something that needs healing or fixing.

Grieving parents have something in common. They must continue their life without seeing their babies grow up to be children or their children to grow up to become adults. Grief is like unrequited love but one where the relationship hasn’t ended even though the person has left and is not contactable. That’s the paradox of child loss.

What if I’m not a bereaved mother?

As someone who hasn’t experienced the loss of a child, you can still be there for bereaved parents. You can walk side by side with them and support them with your love. You don’t need to understand their experience to accept how they express or live with it.

So, be there. Don’t try to fix them but stay with them through the darkness. The presence you show by your willingness to fully be there, is enough. You are enough, even if you don’t fully understand the grief experience.


MAY WE ALL HEAL – Please join Grieving Parents Support Network’s upcoming community event in May:

You know what ‘May We All Heal 2017 – Creative Healing After Loss’ is?
It’s a way of conscious & mindful meaning creation after loss
a way of bringing light into the dark corners of grief yet unmet
a way of loving yourself despite the brokenness and ugliness of the not so pretty feelings of grief
a way of letting light in to be able to shine your light into the world again
a way of reclaiming YOUR life
a way of loving your heart, no matter what.
Join here. Find out more here.

Please also read:

Do More Than Survive The First Year After Loss

5 Things I Found Out Since Being A Bereaved Mother



  • Loretta Tweed aka Grace

    April 5, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Thank-you so very much! I lost my daughter Brittany April 22, 2016. She was twenty-nine. Her one year Angel Anniversary is coming up.

    1. Nathalie Himmelrich

      April 6, 2017 at 5:40 am

      You’re most welcome, Loretta. I’m so sorry about Brittany’s death. I hope you consider taking part in ‘May We All Heal’ – the month long community (from the Grieving Parents Support Network) event we run every year in May. The link is above in the article, towards the end.
      Much Love, Nathalie

  • Don’t Apologize For Your Grief – Still Standing Magazine

    July 5, 2017 at 8:00 am

    […] Why you will never fully understand my grief experience as a bereaved mother […]

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