The love of a mother is irreplaceable and doesn’t die, even when she does.
Mother’s Day is a time to honour and celebrate your mother. While it’s a great day and a wonderful opportunity to make your mum feel special, it can also be a hard day if your mother has passed away. It’s a reminder of the loss you feel and carry with you every day.
Time does help and it gets easier as the years pass by, but it doesn’t change the fact that she isn’t here – and it’s natural for your pain and sadness to be heightened on days like Mother’s Day.
When you’ve lost your mother
As Mother’s Day approaches, lots of people make plans to spend time with their mum. Some families will meet up for a long lunch, others may plan a special weekend away and some will pay a visit to spend time together. For those who are lucky enough to have their mother in their life, it can be a great day. But if your mother has died, the day can be really hard.
Whether you’re young or old, single or married, a parent or not, losing your mother is one of the most emotional experiences you’ll ever go through. Or you may have lost your mother-in-law, grandmother or other mother figure in your life.
If you’re struggling with grief this Mother’s Day, know that you’re not alone. Here are some things you can do to help make coping with the day a little easier.
- Do something she loved. Was there something your mum especially enjoyed doing? If she loved gardening, buy some plants and plant them in your yard in her memory. If she liked to bake, make one of her favourite recipes. If she liked to hike, take a long walk and think about her. Doing something your mother loved is a lovely way to bring her into your day.
- Practice self care. Sleep in. Go for a walk. Eat a nice meal. Treat yourself to a massage. Do things that bring you comfort and make you smile. Consider it as a tribute to the most important contribution your mother made to the world – you.
- Write a letter. Take the time to write some words to your mother. Think about a favourite time. Recall an important life lesson she left you with. Pour out your feelings on paper or tap away on your computer keyboard and be honest about everything you’re feeling.
- Find the right company. Be selective with your company on Mother’s Day. The last thing you want is to get stuck at a brunch with a room full of mums and their families. Surround yourself with people who know your situation and understand that the day might be difficult for you. Better yet, find someone in the same boat and do something together. It can make the load much easier to bear.
- Allow yourself to cry. It’s almost inevitable that Mother’s Day will bring up some powerful feelings for those grieving the loss of a mother. Give yourself the time to process them in a way that is healthy and beneficial for you, either alone or with others. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and treat yourself gently as you cry it out.
- Ask for help. If you start to feel overwhelmed by sadness and grief, reach out to a family member, friend or counsellor. Help and support can make all the difference.
When you’ve lost a child
Losing a child is one of the most devastating losses anyone can experience and grieving that loss colours the rest of a parent’s life. You can’t escape it and on days like Mother’s Day, the grief may seem unbearable.
If you’re grieving the loss of your child, here are some tips to help you get through the day.
- Write a letter. Writing is a great way to release emotions that are bottled up inside – from grief and pain to guilt and anger. Pour your feelings out onto paper. Write about your feelings and memories of your child. When you’re done, read the letter out loud to yourself. This can be a comforting exercise.
- Lean on family and friends. You don’t need to spend the day alone or put on a happy face and go to a big Mother’s Day celebration. Instead, lean on a friend or two who are sympathetic to your situation and will lend a shoulder to cry on if you need it.
- Don’t minimise the loss. You don’t need to be strong on Mother’s Day or try to minimise the loss by counting your other blessings. You’re allowed to grieve, so give yourself permission.
- Spend time with your kids. If you have other children, spend the day with them. It may hurt to be with them and without the child you have lost, but finding joy in the children still with you is a powerful way to cope with those negative emotions of loss.
- Remember you’re still a mother. Just because you’ve lost a child doesn’t mean that you’re not still a mother to them. Never forget that. You are your child’s mother forever.
When kids lose their mum
Mother’s Day can be a challenging time for children who have suffered a loss in their life. If you’re supporting a child who’s lost their mother, grandmother or a mother figure, use Mother’s Day to help them learn about who their mum was in life.
- Ask them what they want to do. Asking children for their input is important. Just like adults, children have their own grief road to travel. Some might not want to do anything at all. Others might have quite strong ideas of how they want to honour their mother. Giving kids a chance to remember their mum in their own way on Mother’s Day can go a long way in the healing process.
- Talk about their Mum. Mother’s Day is a great time to talk about the person they’ve lost. Share happy thoughts, Discuss good times. It will help ensure their mother remains a real presence in their lives.
- Make a memory box. Put keepsakes and other special items into a box. Tangible, visible items can help children feel connected to the person who has gone. It can be pulled out and cherished year round on birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions.
- Make a card. Creating a Mother’s Day card can help children work through what they’re feeling. After they’ve made the card, ask them what they’d like to do with it. They might want to keep it in their room or display it somewhere special in the house. You might even think about tying it to a helium balloon so they can release it into the sky.
Supporting others through the day
While you may not have experienced the loss of your mother, some of your friends may have. There are lots of things you can do to reach out and make the day a little brighter. Here are some ideas.
- Be mindful of their feelings. If they don’t feel up to visitors, you should understand and respect that. Offer them a rain check.
- Be a source of comfort. Be there to listen to them and provide support.
- Send a card or give them a call. It’s a small gesture that means a lot. All you need to do is remind them that you’re thinking of them.
- Avoid platitudes. Don’t try to rush your friend through the process of grief. This only invalidates what they’re feeling. Be patient.
Remember your mum
Grief and loss is something we all experience at some point in our lives, and having strategies in place to cope with those special times like Mother’s Day can help make the process a little easier to navigate.
Focus on what your mum meant to you and what you learnt from her. What is your mother’s legacy? Why was she important to you? And remember, Mother’s Day is a special day for celebrating and remembering mothers, grandmothers and others, whether they’re living or not.
Want to know more?
For more information about coping with grief on Mother’s Day, please contact the Walter Carter Funerals team by emailing [email protected]
Motherless Daughters is an Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting girls and women whose mums have died.
The organisation was founded in 2013 by two Victorian women with the hope of making a difference to the lives of those who have lost their mums and with beliefs that identification and being in contact with other motherless daughters is both therapeutic and comforting.
Motherless Daughters provides support through events, functions and an online space that connects women and girls of all ages.
To find out more, go to motherlessdaughters.com.au