Mother’s Day should be a day of celebration, but for mums whose child has died, it can be an incredibly painful reminder of what they’ve lost.
As the day is approaching, we’ve spoken to Suzanne Ellis, our Family Counsellor, to get some advice on things bereaved mums can do to help them get through the day and to find out how friends and family can support them at this difficult time.
If you’re a mum who’s lost your child, we hope you find it helpful.
How can mums who’ve lost their child deal with the build up to Mother’s Day?
When your child has died, the build-up to Mother’s Day can be an extremely difficult and painful time. It can be particularly challenging as it may seem that for weeks prior to the day itself, that wherever you look – TV and shops for example – Mother’s Day is being promoted and advertised.
In the lead up to the day, it may help to:
- Try to remember that often the anticipation and the build-up to Mother’s Day can be worse than the actual day itself. Remember that it’s just another day and it will come and go.
- Try to give the build-up as little attention as possible
- Accept that Mother’s Day is very commercialised and therefore impossible to completely avoid
- Find a trusted friend, family member or counsellor that you can talk to about how you’re feeling
What advice would you give to mums facing their first Mother’s Day without their child?
- Try to keep in mind that you will always be your child’s mum, and this will never change, even though they’re not here.
- Some mums say that they still feel in shock or overwhelmed about losing their child on the first Mother’s Day without them, so accept that this is a completely normal way to feel.
- Grief is a very personal thing, but it’s really important to try and do whatever feels right for you on the day. If you want to stay at home and cry, then do that. If you want to go out and mark the day, then do that. Just go with how ever you feel on the day.
- It’s a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of the day. Be aware that Facebook may throw up ‘on this day’ memories and photos from the previous year, which you may find upsetting.
- If you have other children or your own mum, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and only do what you can. Recognise it may be a day of mixed emotions, take care of yourself and don’t do anything you don’t want to – everyone will understand.
How can partners / dads support mums who’ve lost their child on Mother’s Day?
- Just go with whatever your partner wants. If she wants to be comforted, then offer her comfort, but if she wants to be left alone then give her plenty of space
- Don’t be afraid to discuss making a plan for the day, which may help make it easier for her to get through it
- Try to make time to really listen to and acknowledge how she may be feeling
- Remind her that she is still a mum despite the loss
- Be understanding, empathic and thoughtful
- Some mums may find it thoughtful if they receive a Mother’s Day card from all their children, including their child who’s died. It’s important for you to make sure this is something she would like, before arranging it.
Is there anything particularly thoughtful that friends and family can do to help make it less painful / or to help remember the child who’s died?
- On Mother’s Day, it’s important for friends and family to show bereaved mums that they are thinking about them, so give them a call or send a text, card or flowers.
- Ask them if they’d like some company or would prefer to be left alone, and if you do see them, talk about their child so they know they’re remembered.
- You could also suggest sharing stories about their child or looking through old photographs of them.
Is Mother’s Day a good day to visit a child’s grave/resting place?
- There’s no right or wrong answer, just honour what feels right for you at the time.
- It might change from year to year depending on how you are feeling on the day.
- Do whatever feels right for you and your child and don’t ever feel pressured.
Is it a good idea to establish some sort of tradition on Mother’s Day to remember the child who has died?
- Developing traditions is a really personal thing and doing so may be helpful.
- For some, a tradition on Mother’s Day offers a plan, but it is entirely up to the individual and the family. It’s equally okay not to have a plan and give yourself time and space.
- Doing what feels right at the time and on the day is more important than sticking to a tradition.
- Some families create a garden or plant a tree in memory of their child. Some families go out for a meal or to the seaside. Some families do nothing.
- Everyone has their own ways of dealing with their grief and remembering their child, and every way is ok.
Should you send mums who’ve lost their child a Mother’s Day card?
- It's important that mums know that their child isn’t forgotten, however, generally a Mother’s Day card is from a child to a mum, so be sensitive.
- If you would normally have sent a card, then you could continue with your usual pattern, but it’s always best to check with mum that it’s still ok.
- Another option is to send a ‘thinking of you’ card acknowledging the day instead.
ocal families face their biggest fear and their child dies. Tragically we can only afford to help one. No one should suffer the death of a child alone and with your help they won’t have to. Please donate now, so we can be there for every family whose child dies.