Helpful Comments from Adult Children
to Their Widowed Mothers
Bob Baugher, Ph.D.
In the research for my doctoral dissertation Perceptions of the Widows’ Bereavement Process by Their Adult Children, I asked 59 women who had been widowed between 1 and 10 years: "Are there any helpful things that your adult children have said to you since the death of your husband? List three of the most helpful statements from any of your children."
The death of a spouse is life-altering. Whether the death was anticipated or sudden, the widowed woman suddenly finds herself in a new world with an array of grief reactions, a number of new tasks to learn, and a number of confusing experiences. More than any time in her life, the widowed woman needs support from those around her—especially her children. The findings of this study provide suggestions for direct and practical support from adult children to their widowed mothers.
Six categories of responses emerged: Comments about Her Husband, Love, Her Role as a Mother, Permission to Move on, Helpful Advice, Supportive Statements
Comments about Her Husband—Their Father
Daddy wouldn’t want you sitting home all the time, go out.
He loved you so much and would not want you to be sick with grief over him.
Dad would want us to be happy.
Dad would be proud of how strong you’ve been.
Daddy completed the mission he was put here for. He accomplished much in his life.
Daddy is in heaven and I know he isn’t suffering.
Dad would want us to have a good life and not grieve for him.
You have done what I think dad would have wanted you to do.
He was a good father.
I loved him so much.
This song is for Daddy, Mamma.
He was quite a man, mother.
I know Dad loved me. I loved him.
He forgot all the bad times, so we can too.
Daddy liked doing things- so God is probably letting him help build the golden streets.
Dad’s at peace.
Mother, Daddy is better off. If he couldn’t get well, you did all you could for him.
He was happy, he died with a smile on his face.
He isn’t suffering. We must let him rest in peace and be ready to meet him in heaven.
We can let this get all of us down or we can go with it as Dad would want, expect.
We know that Dad is at rest and with the Lord although he will be greatly missed.
I love you.
Mom, you are the greatest possession I have.
Mother, you have us kids. We love you.
You know we are here and love you.
God loves you.
We can make it together.
Mom, we all love you.
I loved Daddy and miss him but I feel closer to you now than I used to.
Her Role as a Mother and Wife
You did a good job being my mother.
You did a splendid job at role of both mother and father.
You made all of us caring, loving people with a sense of commitment to each other.
You are the only one in the world I can depend on (a mixed blessing).
Everything I am I owe to you and Dad because of your love and strength.
I’m grateful for all the things you and Dad made me do no matter how I resisted.
Mom, you should not have any regrets. You did everything you could for Dad.
You were a good wife.
You made my father happy.
Permission to Move on
I wish you would meet someone and remarry.
You’re a good person. If God intends for you to remarry the right man will come along.
Mom you can get married again. The Bible says if your husband dies you can remarry.
I hope you find someone to love you as much as Daddy did.
You may not want to now but in future you have my permission to marry.
Do you mind if I send this gentleman to see you?
You’re strong and you can handle this.
You must learn to stand on your own two feet and make your own happiness.
Cherish the happy times you had with Dad, but now is time to start a life without him.
Mother, keep busy.
You must make a new life for yourself.
Take it step by step.
You will need to seek companionship from your friends, they want to help you.
Think things through. Anything you decide is fine with me.
Anything you want to do is fine. I trust you, Mamma.
What is the worst that could happen if you did or didn’t do that?
I never want to see you hurt again, you’ve been hurt enough.
I know you will miss him.
Go ahead and cry. It is OK. Let’s get on with our lives.
Hope can be strong in a time of crisis.
I was worried about you at first; but now I know you’re going to make it.
We’ll survive, Mom.
I’ll always be here to help you, Mom, in any way.
I’ll help you sell some of dad’s things.
I’ll always be with you. I’ll never let you live anywhere else, but with me.
I love you and what can I do to make it easier for you?
We have each other. I will look after you.
You are a pretty and smart lady, Mom. You’ll do fine in whatever you try.
I know I should help you more with little things, but I never feel like you need help.
I don’t worry about you; I know you’ll do fine.
You have adjusted well to living alone.
You are capable to handle your business.
I will never let you down.
I will be on my own, but if I need help (financial help), I’ll ask.
I will help you.
We’ll see Daddy in heaven someday.
I lost a daddy—not a step daddy.
You are my best friend.
We will make it together.
I will help you do things around the house.
I promised Dad I would take care of you.
You are well-organized.
You are doing a good job settling estate, picking up pieces of your life.
I’m proud of you.
You are doing great.
You look very pretty today.
You can make your own decisions.
We’re going to help you.
We’re going to see to your needs as much as we can.
I know you’re doing the best you can.
(When I had a possible job lay off.) Don’t worry, we’ll move in and pay the bills.
Call me for help anytime.
I’ll always have time for my momma.
There they are: more than 90 supportive statements meant to comfort a widowed woman in grief. Note that, even though this study was done more than 40 years ago, the statements are still applicable today.