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Coping with Mother’s Day

11th March 2018

So here we are again, another day which cruelly reminds us of that person we are still trying to learn to live without. I think it is safe to say that this day will be difficult, whether you are grieving the loss of your mother, grieving the loss of your partner or grieving the loss of a child.

We have put together a few pieces of advice to help you get through the day. Nowadays, with the pressure of society, we are often made to feel like we should rush through grief and get back to “normal” within a few weeks. But when we are experiencing grief, often it isn’t clear what “normal” even is anymore. Edward Myers, a freelance writer from America writes in his book ‘When Parents Die: A Guide for Adults’, “Loss of a parent is the single most common form of bereavement in this country. Yet the unstated message is that when a parent is middle-aged or elderly, the death is somehow less of a loss than other losses”. The truth is, you are never prepared for the death of a parent. These invincible beings who have taught us all we know seem somewhat immortal and when they are gone we can often be left with a sense of abandonment and uncertainty, no matter how old you may be. After all, they have been with us our entire lives. Any emotion you are feeling right now is perfectly acceptable, regardless of what society pressures us to believe.

Grief is exhausting, emotionally, physically and mentally. So, when making plans for Mother’s Day, go easy on yourself. Know your limitations and don’t push yourself too far too soon. As grief is so taxing on your body, we often forget to look after ourselves and these special days remind us of what life used to be like before the fog of grief appeared. Here are some ideas and thoughts to help you plan for Mother’s day:

  • On Mother’s Day, try to take an hour or so to look after yourself, take a bath, read a book or even take a nap. Spending some uninterrupted attention on you, your loved one wouldn’t want you to neglect yourself.
  • If you want to spend the day on your own, try not to feel guilty. There are plenty of people who would want to do the same and should be allowed to do so without the added pressure of what someone else might think of them.
  • If you don’t want to spend the day alone, maybe try to organise a meal out with friends who have been there to support you or who are in a similar situation.
  • If you have children yourself, try to include them in whatever plans you make. Often, the loss of a grandparent is a child’s first experience of grief. Including them in your plans will help towards them understanding grief and what has happened.

If you feel like it is important to mark Mother’s Day in a special way, you can do this in many ways. Some ideas are:

  • Do something you used to do with your Mum and spend the time reflecting on your memories.
  • Go on a walk, visit your mums favourite place or even go through old photos and talk about special memories.
  • You could even write a Mother’s Day card to your mum, telling her all the things that you wish you could tell her if she were here. This card could then be displayed in your home, at the cemetery or at the crematorium.
  • Holding a small memorial may also be of comfort, light a candle or visit your mothers final resting place and take a few minutes of silent reflection.

If you are a parent who has lost your partner, regardless of whether you are the Mother of Father, this is going to be a hard day for you too. As well as the advice relevant above, some other ideas are:

  • Create a special memory box/jar where you write down all your favourite memories of your loved one onto individual pieces of paper and put them into the jar. You can get the memory jar out when any of your family are having a particularly difficult day and read some of the memories.
  • Still go out for that meal if you want to – don’t deny yourself a good day. Invite friends or join another family who have experienced a similar heart break as yours.

If you have been affected by the death of a child:

  • Be gentle with yourself. Some of the emotions of grief surrounding the death of a child include anger, guilt and of course, sadness. These emotions are perfectly ok to feel and shouldn’t be suppressed.
  • Set aside some time for reflection. Whether you focus your emotions into something creative like writing in a journal, painting, drawing or holding a small memorial like lighting a candle or planting some flowers. Setting aside this time to remember that child can offer comfort on a difficult day.
  • If you are a Mother who has never had the chance to hold your baby, whether that be due to a miscarriage or if you have difficulty conceiving, give yourself permission to grieve. Talking to a trusted family member or friend about those emotions about your feelings can often lift the weight of the loss, even if its just for a short while.
  • Be patient with yourself. Should you need any extra support this Mother’s Day, SANDS and Cruse Bereavement Support have helplines open.

Get support

As with making any plans while going through the fog that is grief, make all your plans flexible as you may not be feeling up to them on the day. For further support and guidance, please call 01332 345268 and ask for Angela, our Bereavement Nurse.