How to get through Mother’s Day when you have lost your mam

How to get through Mother’s Day when you have lost your mam

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate everything our mams do for us, and make them feel special. But for those whose mam has passed away, it can be a heartbreaking day brimming with memories, nostalgia and painful longing for the mother whose loss has left such a gaping hole in the family.

Such feelings are something Lianna Champ understands only too well. The funeral director and grief recovery specialist lost her mother in 2011, and admits: “I thought I would never feel normal again. I felt like a bicycle that had its stabilisers ripped off far too soon. I wobbled. A lot.”

But over time she came to terms with her grief, and eventually wrote the book How to Grieve Like A Champ to help other bereaved people deal with their loss.

“It’s vital that we allow ourselves to feel the pain of our grief, to wallow in it and come through the other side,” she advises. “This is how we heal – by recognising and experiencing emotional pain. We must allow ourselves to survive and not to blind ourselves from finding meaningful ways to continue the bonds we have with our mums.”

And Sarah Harris, director of bereavement services and education at Child Bereavement UK (childbereavementuk.org) (CBUK), adds: “While Mother’s Day is a joyous occasion for many, it can be a difficult day for children and families when a parent has died. We want to offer guidance and practical ways to help those navigating feelings of grief, particularly those that can arise around special occasions like Mother’s Day.”

Here, Champ and CBUK, working in partnership with Busy Bees Nurseries (busybeeschildcare.co.uk), suggest the best ways bereaved children of any age can get through Mother’s Day.

Reminisce with others who loved her

(iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

Don’t be afraid to pick the phone up and contact your family or siblings or whoever else was special to your mam, advises Champ. “By reminiscing, you’re showing how important she was, and still is, in your life. Sharing memories provides a link to those we’ve lost. Yes, there will be tears and longing, but we have to embrace the life of memories we’ve made together.”

Keep talking

CBUK points out that as Mother’s Day approaches, children who’ve lost their mam may hear other children talking about theirs and feel excluded, upset or confused. “It’s likely they’ll have questions about why their mam’s no longer here, so try to answer these honestly and openly, using age-appropriate language,” advises Harris. “While it’s natural to want to protect them from upsetting conversations, children are generally more able to deal with difficult truths than we may think.”

Be with people you love

As the day approaches, don’t cut yourself off from others, advises Champ. Try to be with people you love and feel comfortable with.

Create a new ritual for the future

Old rituals can be hard to let go and you may feel this will take you further away from your mam. “Trying to do things the same and keep those traditions shared with our mam can make us feel even lonelier,” says Champ, “therefore, we should try something new.”

Buy your mam a card and talk to her

“Each year my sister buys mam a lovely Mother’s Day card and pins it on her family kitchen board, gets the photos out and talks about what mam would be saying to her about where she is in her life at the moment,” says Champ. “Imagining mam there with her words of wisdom keeps her positive influence shining. This is a wonderful way of bringing your mam’s advice to you in those times of need.”

Buy her a plant

Every year, Champ buys an orchid for her mam. and says: “The times I feed and nurture it, I am with mam.”

Create memories

Doing something in memory of your mam can be a positive way to mark Mother’s Day, says CBUK. Perhaps you could cook her favourite meal, look at photos, or visit a place that reminds you of her with your child. “Creating a memory jar or drawing a special picture can also be great ways to mark the day, while offering a chance to open a conversation around how your child is feeling,” Harris suggests.

Plant bulbs

Mother’s Day is at the beginning of spring, a time of renewal, observes Champ. She suggests planting some spring bulbs for next year, and points out: “You’ll be surprised how much watching them grow will make you feel your mam smiling down on you.”

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve

Don’t put yourself under pressure to conform to what others expect of you, stresses CBUK. While some families get comfort from creating new family traditions, others prefer to have a quieter day. “Ask your child how they’d like to spend their time, and include them in making choices about how they’d like to remember their mam,” suggests Harris.

It’s fine to cry – or be happy

Let it be OK to shed some tears for your mam, says Champ. “We need to share our tears as well as laughter. And don’t berate yourself when you have happy moments – this is perfectly healthy and normal.”

Involve your child’s nursery or school

Speak to your child’s teachers about how they’ll manage any activities around Mother’s Day, so your child doesn’t feel excluded or upset. For instance, would they like to join in and make a card to remember their mam, or would they prefer to make a card for another family member? Ensuring children feel included, have choices, and know what to expect can help reduce any feelings of isolation, says CBUK.

Give your mam a hug

Champ suggests that when you need to give your mam a hug, put your arms around those you share your life with and give them her hug.

For child bereavement support and information, call CBUK on 0800 02 888 40.

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