Processing Pain While Mothering


There are no better performers than moms hiding pain from their children. And I’m a rock star. 

And like you, I’m a really a good mom (never mind my 6-year old calling me a “poopy-butt” this morning). 

But this year has been hard. A difficult divorce, going back to work after six years home with kids, a huge move… and lots and lots of transitions. The struggles have been real, especially the hard truths I’ve worked through. 

Truth be told, they’ve rocked my world beyond what I could have imagined. Truly, the way past it all is straight through it. The good, the bad, and the ugly, but ultimately it’s beautiful: gifts and opportunities from the universe to heal, grow, transform even.

A year ago, I felt so broken, it was all I could do to get up in the morning and fake a smile while I made breakfast. The dread and uncertainty nearly suffocated me as I attempted to keep life “normal” during those early months of the divorce. 

I know many of you can relate. Maybe not through affairs and divorce, but pain and grief are universal. Death, illness, trauma, mental illness — you name it and most of us have been there. In many ways, the stages of grief are the same regardless of the circumstances. It has a way of blanketing our lives in a thick fog of intense emotions. 

But you know as well as I do that we still need to show up for our kids, even when it’s hard to face the day. So, how do we honor our grief and healing process while also caring for our kids and modeling healthy emotions and healing? Huge questions, I know, but here are a few ways I navigated this year.


On a practical level, finding times to process grief helped immensely. In the beginning, that meant going through the motions when I was “on.” Mom life was mom life, and grief time I let myself feel ALL the feelings, avoiding the distractions for that time. To reiterate, the way past it is THROUGH it, no way around it, it will keep coming back until you’ve processed and healed.


My gratitude practice became a way of life, a way of honoring the opportunities the universe presented to me. Gabby Bernstein helped me see that the universe has my back, even in the dark moments. Actively seeking the good helped in the painful moments. It didn’t come easily, it was an intentional and regular practice. Positive mantras and surrounding myself with others who gently reminded me of the good and celebrated with me.

Radical self-care 

If you follow me on social media, I share widely how I’ve been creative, resourceful, and even ruthless in my “self-care”: redefining what it means to ME and making it a way of life, rather than an addition to to-do list. I became cutthroat in drawing boundaries. 

I became really clear on the things that light me up and the things that deplete me, then being creative on how to eliminate, simplify, and delegate the depleting things. I guided myself from depletion to empowerment. 


This was NOT a linear process, and part of the journey has been allowing tremendous grace when the lows hit. Part of self-care is loving ALL parts of yourself and ALL parts of your journey. The lows are actually a necessary part of it. And a powerful opportunity for growth, healing, and transformation. Embrace them, and allow yourself the moments to let them consume you. But don’t stay there, reach out to others to help guide you out of the tunnel. 


Y’all, I did NOT do this alone. I build community, I joined groups of amazing women who are showing up authentically in the world, and surrounded myself with friends who celebrate me. And accepted the celebrations! I practiced reaching out and sharing my journey. Isolation is a slow death, friends. Visibility and connection guide you through the lows. Showing up for myself, as well as others, has been critical. 

It was a painful process, but I’m slowly moving towards gratitude. I’m stronger now than I ever have been. I’ve processed pain from my childhood and learned more about my painful triggers. And I am now happier than I have ever been. I’ll eventually be able to say, thank you. Eventually.

How have you processed grief while mothering?


  1. This is beautiful, Jenelle. I love that you are sharing this and being so vulnerable in hopes to help others through hard times. Thank you.

    • Julia, you’re so welcome. I’m on a mission to empower moms because I also believe empowered moms will raise empowered kids, which ultimately changes the world. Thank you for following along, please share widely!

  2. This is so beautifully written, reflecting ones own journey all the while offering guiding steps of wisdom learned.
    Congratulations Jenelle, for the incredible growth you have embraced this year and pushed through.
    This is a great article and so useful I believe to many. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Thank you so much, Sally!! I’ve been so blessed and honored to be making a difference and empowering moms. That’s how we change the world!! Moms raising the next generations, that’s where change happens.

  3. Yes, I will reiterate how beautifully written this is. I have learned a lot from you. I’ve been encouraged and supported by you through my own separation, in my darkest hours. This artical perfectly sums up your approach to healing and the triumphant results you’ve achieved in such a short time. I’m more internal in the process, not having the time or energy to devote to my friendships as I would like. As a result it’s taken me much longer to run my race. However, you’re always there for me when I do come up for air. Thank you for writing, sharing, giving so much, for practicing Thai Massage, and for being the amazing rock solid friend who effortlessly inspires me through it all. I can say I’m thankful for every bit of my journey because my kids and I are happier than we’ve ever been, and I’m stronger than I ever imagined. This “tragedy” spared me from settling for less than my full potential! While the awakening was painful, it has turned out to be a blessing in so many ways. My kids see me smile through the tears now. They’ve learned to process and share their feelings without fear or shame. Change is bitter sweet, but hope allows us to march on with heads held high and hearts full!

    • I adore and appreciate you more than I can say. You are NOT alone friend. You run your race at whatever speed you need to, I’ll always be here when you need me. I’ve been so inspired and delighted with the growth I’ve seen in YOU as well, I hope you see it too. Xo

  4. My default, too, is to put on a smile and pretend I’m ok—but as I learn and grow, I realize that this “happy face” habit is actually a disservice to my kids. They need to see that adults, including the ones they love the most, go through difficult things. They need a model of how to feel feelings and process grief. So when I cry in front of the kids, I try not to beat myself up. I tell them that I’m sad, and that often sparks a big conversation that helps us grow even closer.

    • I love this, thank you so much for sharing, and for being such a powerful role model. I also believe expressing healthy emotions in front of our kids is so important. It helps them feel safe and seen, knowing that emotions are normal and ok. It’s how we love and care for ourselves that’s important, and connecting is a really important part of that. I’m so happy that you’re able to go together. I love how our kids are such powerful teachers too. Xo

  5. Such an important issue to address. I don’t have kids, but I know that processing pain can be a struggle even by yourself. Thanks for this Jenelle!

    • It’s so true! Thank you for sharing. I love reminding people that we are never truly alone, there are always so many people ready to embrace and accept you. Xo

Comments are closed.