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Experiencing Grief on Mother’s Day

Posted on March 5th, 2024

Mother’s Day is one of those occasions that is hard to miss when the time rolls around each year, as our physical and digital world is awash with messages of treating and appreciating your Mum and ways to shower her with extra love and appreciation.

For those of us whose mother, grandmother or beloved maternal figure is no longer with us – and of course for mothers that have sadly lost a child of any age – this can serve as a sad reminder of a new or long-standing grief that perhaps never truly goes away. While many online subscription services and mailing list now offer followers the chance to ‘opt out’ of Mother’s Day-related news and offers (which offers some respite for many) there is little doubt that this is an occasion that can trigger or resurface strong emotions for a lot of people of all ages.

What are some of the best ways to manage or express your grief on Mother’s Day?

This will probably be an emotional day, especially if this is your first year without your Mum or loved one, or if you’re a mother without your child. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to control or prevent your grief from bubbling up – but remember it’s ok and perfectly natural if it does. There may be a lot of trigger points surrounding Mothering Sunday, including on social media, which you can do your best to avoid, but giving yourself permission to grieve and the freedom to express yourself may offer more positivity than trying to suppress or ignore your feelings.

This expression may look like doing something in your Mum or loved one’s honour – such as visiting a place of rest, buying flowers, cooking a special meal, writing a letter, lighting a candle, spending time with family and friends, playing her favourite songs… If it feels right, Mother’s Day can present a meaningful opportunity for sharing feelings and memories with loved ones; why not arrange some time with your family, or friends, to reminisce about the person you’ve lost and share a memorable story?

Alternatively, you may wish to do nothing to mark the day… and this is fine, too. Spending the day reflecting at home or by yourself may be the positive rest your body and mind you need to work through or manage your grief. There is no harm in putting yourself and these kinds of needs first.

Mother’s Day Grief and Children

Those who have sadly lost a partner or family member that was the mother or mother figure of their children may find themselves in a particularly difficult emotional situation as Mother’s Day approaches; while of course dealing with your own sense of loss, helping children through a bereavement – or trying to explain the death of a loved one – is not an easy task.

Making sense of any loss, but especially that of a parent, is hard for anyone but can be particularly difficult for children and young people of any age as they tackle feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and more whilst being perhaps less equipped to do compared with adults. It is of course important to offer the best and most appropriate grief support possible to young, developing minds – speaking honestly but gently – but it’s understandably very difficult to know how to do so for the best, especially while trying to process your own emotions at the same time.

It may be tempting to ignore occasions like Mother’s Day, to keep busy or to try to offer lots of distractions – and this may in part be appropriate, depending on the age and specific personality of your child – but it is worth preparing yourself for this being an especially sad or emotional day. If you wish, with your family or friends, to honour a special person on Mother’s Day, why not ask your child how they might like to do so, offering them some freedom of expression and a chance to connect with you in your shared grief.

Remember that children may not communicate in expected ways, or the same ways that adults do – but giving them some space and safety to express themselves and talk about their mother if they wish to can offer some comfort, acknowledgement of their feelings and a chance to reinforce that they are loved, supported and ‘seen’/’heard’.

You can find some advice and resources for supporting children with bereavement, including for teachers, on the Child Bereavement UK website; click here for more information.

You can also find grief support and help on your local and UK-wide bereavement charity websites, such as:

Cruse Bereavement Support

St Helena Hospice

EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice)

Marie Curie

Essex Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity)

The sad and confusing mix of feelings that come with the loss of your mother (no matter your age), or of your child, may never fully go away; every family is different and as ever, how you experience your grief and how you wish to mark it on Mother’s Day – if you do wish do so at all – should be however feels right to you and those around you.

Please do reach out to our compassionate team if you need any support or advice, including any guidance with the funeral planning process; we’re here to help. Call us on 01206 862 963 or email info@freedomfunerals.co.uk