When Angela Miller’s toddler son Noah died at the age of just 2 ½, she joined a club that nobody wants to join: bereaved parents.
“Fifteen years ago I became every parent’s worst nightmare,” the Minnesota-based mother, speaker and bestselling author told Fox News Digital.
“My life as I knew it was obliterated — it instantly became permanently divided into before and after,” she said.
“There is nothing that prepared me as a parent for the horror that is child loss.”
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In the process of her grief journey, Miller discovered there was no real community catering to the loss of toddlers or young children.
So she got to work.
Miller founded the grief organization called A Bed for My Heart, and authored “You Are the Mother of All Mothers: A Message of Hope for the Grieving Heart.”
“I created the support, resources, articles I wished I’d had, wrote the book I couldn’t find anywhere — it didn’t exist — and created the events I longed for and desperately needed that didn’t exist over a decade ago when I was going through the worst of it after the death of my son,” she told Fox News Digital.
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One of those events is the International Bereaved Mother’s Day Brunch, which she leads alongside her friend, Erin Mammen.
“This is the event I wish I’d had,” she said. “I’m unaware of any other events like it in the world.”
In the wake of Noah’s death, she said it was “exhausting” to go to “traditional” Mother’s Day celebrations. (Miller has other living children.)
“I felt unacknowledged as a grieving mom,” she said. “All I wanted my first Mother’s Day after my son died (and every Mother’s Day after) was to be acknowledged as Noah’s mom. I was still Noah’s mom, and I always will be — but the world didn’t acknowledge that simple fact.”
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“Every year I felt a gut-wrenching sadness in the days and week leading up to Mother’s Day and on actual Mother’s Day,” Miller said. “I saw a need and wanted to offer meaningful and helpful support to grieving moms in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.”
For grieving mothers, “Mother’s Day is often an extremely painful holiday,” said Miller, regardless of the age at which their child died.
“Many moms struggle to make it through the day. I dreamed of an event where grieving moms could be surrounded by moms who get it on Mother’s Day,” she said.
This “sacred sisterhood” of bereaved mothers would provide “space to laugh, cry, say their names, share their stories, remember and honor their children who died,” she said.
The event is open to any mother who has lost a child, regardless of the age of the child or the circumstances behind the loss.
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“Turns out grieving moms have more in common in our experience of grief than we have differences — no matter how our children died, their stories or their ages,” said Miller.
“Our Bereaved Mother’s Day Brunch gives moms a place to feel supported, acknowledged, loved — held.”
At the brunch, attendees wear name tags with their deceased child’s name, in the format of “(Child)’s Mom (Name).”
“It’s a powerful way we can be acknowledged as our child’s mother at least one day out of the year,” said Miller.
For some attendees at the brunch who lost their children in utero or delivered a stillborn child, this marks the first time they are referred to as their child’s mother.
“We don’t get to hear our kids call us Mom,” said Miller. “I don’t get to be ‘Noah’s Mom’ in life in the ‘normal’ mom-ing-kind-of-way.”
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“We pour so much love into this event every year, it’s truly the heart of what we do,” she said. “We try to make every detail of the brunch special, and meaningful — filled with love and tender care.”
While the International Mother’s Day Brunch originated in Rosemount, Minnesota, Miller told Fox News Digital that she has been fielding requests to hold similar events around the world.
“I’ve had requests from Calgary to Sydney, Chicago to South Africa, New York City to Perth, Hawaii to the U.K.,” she said. “There is a huge need to have these kinds of events everywhere, in every city and every town around the world. It’s always been my hope to expand my events to other cities.”
Miller also found a way to include grieving mothers who could not make it to Minnesota.
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“Thousands of moms worldwide participate online by posting pictures of their children, sharing their stories, and saying their names on the A Bed For My Heart Facebook page,” she said.
For friends and loved ones of bereaved mothers, Miller offered a simple message of advice.
“Show up. And keep showing up. Then show up some more,” she said. “You’d be surprised at how many secondary losses (homes, jobs, friends, family) grieving parents experience after the loss of their child. It’s extremely painful and overwhelming.”
For days like Mother’s Day, Miller advised people to acknowledge the deceased child of their friend or loved one.
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“Say their names,” she said. “It’s the best gift you can give a grieving heart. This is how you can support someone who is grieving. It means everything. It’s music to our ears. It validates, they lived.”
This goes for people who may have a living child (or children) in addition to the child they lost.
“We are always aching for our child who is missing from our arms,” she said. “Time doesn’t alleviate the pain. On Mother’s Day we as grieving moms bleed all over again. The wound is reopened and raw.”
Looking ahead, Miller hopes to expand the event to other cities, and eventually to create a grief center in the mountains that serves all grieving parents.
“My mission is to make compassionate grief support the norm, and to make sure no grieving parent feels alone like I did,” Miller told Fox News Digital.
“Child loss is the crappiest club on Earth filled with the most amazing, shining souls. I consider it my sacred calling to walk alongside grieving hearts.”
Source – https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/international-bereaved-mothers-day-brunch-provides-comfort-grieving-mothers
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