A Mother’s Grief on Mother’s Day

Santa Barbara, CA, May 7, 2024 – The annual celebration of Mother’s Day is meant to be a commemoration of the nurturing nature of women mothers. The day is often filled with family get-togethers, luncheons, flowers and handmade gifts and cards. Women can look up from their daily grind and enjoy the recognition they so greatly deserve.


In grief, attention is often given to those who are missing their mothers who have died.


For many, Mother’s Day can be a bittersweet reminder for mothers who have lost a child, turning a joyful holiday into one filled with pain and grief.


Unfortunately, there is no panacea for grief, though time and distance can eventually bring some peace and perspective. However, some of those who have walked the path of grief before have discovered ways of coping with their grief by focusing on the good times and honoring their loved ones in symbolic ways.


Rosy Bucio knows only too well what grieving on Mother’s Day feels like. Her path to grief came by way of the loss of her daughter, Nina, age 5, who passed away from a rare childhood cancer.


“Nina was a little sprite, full of energy and joy for life,” Bucio said. “She was that little girl that everything came easy to; she hit all her developmental milestones early and basically potty-trained herself by simply watching her big brother. She easily made friends, explored the world and everyone was drawn to her, from preschool buddies to cousins to new kids she would meet at the playground.”


Bucio recalled how Nina and her big brother, Teddy, were the best of sibling friends.


“Teddy was her favorite person in the universe and they would spend hours playing together,” Bucio said. “Unlike most sibling dyads that frequently fought, Nina and Teddy easily got along, and Nina was so responsive to her brother.”


Then, just days before what was supposed to be her first day of kindergarten, Nina was diagnosed with DIPG, a terminal tumor of the brain stem that affects almost 200 children annually. Nina would eventually pass away from the disease, leaving a gaping hole in her family members’ hearts. A hole only accentuated on Mother’s Day.


“I always feel extra tender around Mother’s Day; there is no way around this nor do I want to shy away from this extra tenderness,” Bucio said. “We always recognize the duality of Nina’s absence but perpetual presence; this constant is hard but worthy of recognition.”


When asked for ideas that might help those who are grieving cope on Mother’s Day, Bucio offered the following recommendations.


Do something symbolic


Bucio loves it when her husband finds ways of commemorating their love for Nina on Mother’s Day. In the past, this has included planting a flower or gifting a piece of jewelry adorned with butterflies, their special symbol for Nina.


“These gestures fill my heart with extra layers of love, which I always need,” Bucio said.


Focus on living in the moment


Grief is a thief of joy, but it also reminds you never to take one day for granted.


“Prior to tragedy, it’s easy to take commonplace things for granted, like waking up and hugging your precious child and smelling their little breath fall on you as they adjust to the morning sunlight,” Bucio said. “As grief moves with you, over time you start reflecting on how precious everything is, even the mundane.”


Hold your loved ones tighter


At the same time, you’re missing the loved ones who have passed, Bucio says it is a reminder to hold those around you even closer.


“I also am attentive to the love I have for my boys, Teddy and Benny, and the love they have for me,” Bucio said. “While Mother’s Day is extra tender because of Nina, I have always been hypervigilant that my grief for her absence doesn’t fully overtake my joy for Teddy and Benny’s presence.”


Feel all the feelings


Mother’s Day may become a mixed bag of emotions for people mourning a loss, but that doesn’t mean you should hide away from the pain and focus only on the good.


“My advice is to feel; feel the longing, the sadness, the sweetness of the memories,” Bucio said.


She quoted Jamie Anderson who once said, “Grief is just love with no place to go.”


As with all the best things in this life, it seems true that where there is great joy, there is a balance of heartache and sorrow, something Bucio knows only too well. However, she has found that Mother’s Day, too, can be filled with joy because she knows where to look for it.


Hospice of Santa Barbara

Hospice of Santa Barbara provides professional counseling, support groups, and patient care services free of charge to individuals and families who are grieving the death of a loved one or experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness. Hospice of Santa Barbara also provides counseling in our offices and on seventeen local elementary, junior and high school campuses to children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit


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