Bereaved Parents Month is Every Month

Bereaved Parents Month was founded in 1989 by a group of bereaved parents that wanted to bring awareness to those that were grieving the loss of a child.  Although it is beneficial for bereaved parents to be recognized and validated in their loss, the depravity extends far beyond a month of recognized mourning.  What do these families need?  How can helpers attend to those that have lost a child?  How can families that are mourning communicate their needs.  As July ends, and a new month begins, let us take a few moments to address those questions.

Child loss is something that aches until our last breath.  Parents that have dealt with such a loss are forever different.  Many describe their life before the death of their child and after the death of their child.  Bereaved parents need to feel heard, understood, and validated in their pain.  They cannot be “fixed.”  They yearn to be with their child, and hopelessness is common. Many times, parents need someone to help with the logistics.  Maybe help with other children, meals, or their house cleaned.  But other times, they need someone that won’t shy away from the strong and difficult emotions to process.  They need someone to sit through the ugly cry, and refrain from giving the silver lining.  This can be difficult for others to watch a loved one go through this immense pain.  Know this is part of the process.

Parents that are mourning need to move through those emotions with a place to put the pain.  Create scrapbook.  Visit the gravesite.  Create a memorial.  Walk in the park that meant so much to your child.  Speak your child’s name.  Share memories with others.  Find people that do not shy away from difficult emotions.  Join a grief group or an online support group.  Find a place to put the pain.  This pain must be dosed.  You are allowed to seek out joy.  You are allowed to smile again.  You are allowed to plan a vacation.  The grief will always be there, and finding a way to dose this over time will be essential.

As a bereaved parent, I am grateful to have July as a month to recognize my own pain, reflect, and assess my emotions.  I am glad we have a month to honor our children, and the hopes and dreams that they carried with them.  I am also aware that we grieve every month.  Every day. And every hour.  Our grief changes throughout the years, but we will always love our children, and so we will always grieve them.  We will honor them for the rest of our lives.  I hope that if you are coping with the loss of a child, that you find a way to honor your child each day.

Written by Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC

Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC is the owner of the Center for Hope & Healing in St Charles, Missouri. Kristen has years of experience counseling hospice patients, and those afflicted with grief after coping with the loss of her own son. Her private practice concentrates on grief and traumatic loss.  She also contributes as a specialist in grief support as a group facilitator, writer, and educator in the community.

By |2023-07-31T07:41:40-05:00July 31st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A bereaved mother in May.

Mother’s Day has all kinds of mixed emotions. If we have had good connections to our mothers or our mother figures, it can be a day of celebrating, honor, and gratitude. If our mothers or mother figures are deceased, or the relationship is estranged, the day can create grief and sadness. And if you have lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a day of depravity. Many people are in more than one of these situations, which creates a multitude of emotions. But in my experience, as a mother who has lost a child, and mental health professional, I have found some things to helpful in my grief journey that I’d like to share:

You are allowed to carry more than one emotion.

We are complicated human beings, and you can live in the duality of more than one emotion at once. You can be grateful for other children that are living with you and be sad that your other child didn’t get that privilege. You can hold both. Instead of judging your emotions, you can observe them with kindness and compassion and know that the emotion is not permanent.

Give your grief a voice.

Bereaved Mother’s Day is the Sunday before Mother’s Day every year. (May 7th this year) If you have experienced child loss, find a community where your voice can be heard. There are online forums and events to honor those that have lost a child. By honoring your grief and spending time with others that understand, you are memorializing your child and giving yourself space to feel what you need.

Try to eliminate the “shoulds.”

You get decide what you need around Mother’s Day. If you need to be alone and have tea on your patio, then so be it. If you want to have a picnic or attend a large gathering, allow yourself to celebrate with a bang. Create an environment that is nurturing and compassionate, however that looks. Many people will tell you what you “should” do but attempt to create space and intention so that you can decide what you need. There is no timeline. You should not be further than you are in your grief. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are.
This is a difficult month for many people, so I would like to remind you to take care of your physical bodies. Hydrate, attempt to rest, try to move your body, and intentionally build habits that lends itself to healing. Slow down when things are difficult and give yourself some radical compassion. May will come and go, and so will the emotions with it. Whatever you are feeling at this time, know that it won’t feel this way forever.

Written by Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC
Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC is owner of the Center for Hope & Healing in St Charles, Missouri. Kristen has years of experience counseling in hospice, end of life issues, traumatic loss, and other mental health matters. She also contributes as a specialist in grief and trauma as a group facilitator, writer, speaker and educator in her community and across the country.

By |2023-05-11T08:43:41-05:00May 3rd, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Importance of Rest with Kristen Ernst

Listen in as Lisa Baue of Your Funeral Coach is joined by her Collaborative Network Partner, Kristen Ernst, MA LPC from the Center for Hope and Healing as they discuss the importance of rest. Kristen shares mindfulness tips and tricks and how you can implement them into your practice.

By |2023-02-20T09:33:40-06:00February 20th, 2023|Podcasts|0 Comments

Caring For Yourself with Kristen Ernst

Listen in as Lisa Baue of Your Funeral Coach is joined by her Collaborative Network Partner, Kristen Ernst, MA LPC from the Center for Hope and Healing as they discuss the importance of taking better care of yourself and your team by setting wellness goals.

Wellness is a popular topic today that funeral service and owners need to pay attention to as they care for themselves and their team members. They discuss setting wellness goals and how to use them to help relieve stress in the workplace and one’s personal life. By finding ways for employees to take breaks, exercise regularly, and focus on healthy eating, employers and managers who wish to be successful in the future will need to help their company’s culture by putting wellness and mindfulness programs into their workplace to support their staff as a top priority.

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By |2022-11-09T12:55:22-06:00November 9th, 2022|Podcasts|0 Comments

Caring for Your Staff with Kristen Ernst

Join Lisa Baue and Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC as they discuss the need for employers and managers to make staff their first priority in the Caring for Your Staff Series from Your Funeral Coach Talks.

Making staff’s needs your number one goal this year is imperative to improving retention, becoming the employer of choice, and growing your business. Listen in as Lisa and Kristen share ideas about how to create a better culture of appreciation and stress relief programs Their guidance and advice will teach you how to help your staff feel better cared for and fulfilled in their most meaningful work in funeral service.

By |2022-11-09T12:54:13-06:00November 9th, 2022|Podcasts|0 Comments

Grief Support Programs During The Holidays with Kristen Ernst

Join Lisa and her guest/Collaborative Partner Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC, of the Center for Hope and Healing as they discuss what those who mourn need most and what funeral homes, cremation companies, and cemeteries can do to help them.

By |2022-11-09T12:53:08-06:00November 9th, 2022|Podcasts|0 Comments

Grief of a Child.

18 years. My son died 18 years ago. It’s been 18 years since I kissed my son’s cheek for the last time. I begin to imagine that I would be packing him up to go to college. He would be excited and nervous about the upcoming changes in his life. And I would be worried. I wonder what he would be studying. What his interests would be. I don’t know these things….I can only imagine. I DO know that I miss him everyday. The day that he died, changed my life forever. I know that although the grief has changed over the years, the sadness is just below the surface to access. I know that a large scar has formed over my womb and over my heart.

July is National Bereaved Parents Awareness Month. It is dedicated to raising the awareness about the unimaginable grief parents go through and the emotional support needed to attend to those with child loss. Parents grieve the child that once was and the potential growth that was stolen from them. A parent will mourn the child and the identity that was wrapped up in that person. There are physical symptoms to combat: tiredness, achiness, loss of appetite, numbness, anxiety, insomnia, and gut related issues. Many times, parents lose social circles, motivation, and the ability to tolerate others. In the first few years of child loss, the grief can be a grim, long and dark road that seems impossible to navigate.

Since the loss of my own son, I have attended to those mourning the loss of a child. Parents who have lost their child need a safe place to talk without cliches or religious platitudes. They need a place to feel the strong emotions without judgment or a silver lining. Many people ask,”What do you say to someone that has lost a child?” Grieving parents need your presence. They need your kind support. Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all.

For those that have lost a child, know that your feelings are valid. Allow your feelings to be felt. Although they are strong, it is better to move through those emotions than numbing them.
Try to take breaks from despair. Even if it is for a brief second. Parents tend to punish themselves when experiencing any kind of joy, but dosing the grief is the only way to survive it.
Find people that make you feel seen and heard in your pain. It will not always feel the way it does at this moment. Find ways to honor your grief and honor your child. That may be in nature, a favorite picture, or a song that reminds you of them. Honor it with intention and purpose. You will never move on from this grief, but it is possible to move through it.

I am 18 years removed from that incredibly traumatic day. But my son, Aiden, is honored in my work with others, my children, and my ability to find love and joy while still holding pain. May you honor your own journey in the month of July and every morning that you open your eyes to start a new day.

By |2023-02-01T11:06:46-06:00September 20th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Emotional Regulation

Navigating feelings of stress, anxiety and collective heaviness.

“I’ve been feeling a lot of collective heaviness…I feel it in private practice with students, teachers, parents, and also people returning to the office after working from home”. – Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC
We invite you to view this personal message from Kristen for more information.
If you are interested in attending our upcoming, Emotional Regulation Educational Webinar Series, please click the button below.
By |2021-10-15T07:38:02-05:00October 14th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PODCAST: Addressing Mental Health Issues and Access in a Post Pandemic World

Click one of the links below to listen or download this episode of the, running eyes podcast, featuring Kristen Ernst, LPC.


Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC

Owner and Operator of the Center for Hope and Healing in St. Charles, MO

By |2021-10-14T08:25:26-05:00June 11th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

17 Years Later….A Mother in Mourning

David Kessler once said, “The greatest loss you will ever experience is your own.” As a grief counselor and educator I use that quote to validate a person’s experience and reiterate the fact that grief is unique to each individual. This past week I have reflected greatly upon the death of my own son and I hope that my grief experience provides some insight and a sense of community in your own grief journey.

My son, Aiden, was born in 2004 with a large tumor in his chest cavity. After a couple surgeries and a bunch of disappointments, we were faced with the most difficult decision to take him off life support. The day that he died was the first time that I was allowed to hold him. The moment that he was placed in my arms, he opened his eyes. I held him for hours as hot tears streamed down my face. After he died, I had the privilege of bathing him before the funeral home arrived. It was the darkest and yet, one of the most meaningful moments I have ever experienced. I remember the first few years feeling full of despair. Although I would go on to have more children, I grappled with the feeling as though I would never genuinely smile again. As we mourned, our family found ways to connect to Aiden. A family friend sketched a beautiful family portrait with Aiden in it, we always celebrated his birthday, we hung his stocking and kept his picture on our mantle. Someone once said to me in a grief group, “Grief doesn’t get easier, but we tend to get better at doing it.” I am here to say that after 17 years, there are moments of meaning, genuine joy and authentic compassion for others that are on this grief journey with me.

Aiden died on the 18th of January and was buried on the 21st. My new year begins after that time every year. I give myself time to reflect, to cry, and mourn him during those dates. I slow down and give myself a pass to get a little more sleep and work little less. My heart will always ache for him, and I have adapted to living with that pain. It is now used to provide empathy for those that carry the same heartache. If you have experienced a loss last year or 20 years ago, your love does not end for the person who died. I want to encourage you to find a few people that can hold space for your grief. The act of mourning needs to be a witnessed experience. Find those that will stand in the trenches with you. I will never forget Aiden, the lessons that he taught me, and the ongoing insight that my own grief gives me everyday. My hope is that you will find the same meaning in the midst of your pain.

Written By:

Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC

Owner and Operator of the Center for Hope and Healing in St. Charles, MO

By |2021-01-25T08:19:15-06:00January 25th, 2021|Uncategorized|3 Comments
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