MOTHER’S DAY is a time to celebrate everything our mums do for us, and make them feel special. But for those whose mum 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 bookto 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 suggest the best ways bereaved children of any age can get through Mother’s Day.
Don’t be afraid to pick the phone up and contact your family or siblings or whoever else was special to your mum, 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.”
CBUK points out that as Mother’s Day approaches, children who’ve lost their mum may hear other children talking about theirs and feel excluded, upset or confused.
“It’s likely they’ll have questions about why their mum’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.”
As the day approaches, don’t cut yourself off from others, advises Champ. Try to be with people you love and feel comfortable with.
Old rituals can be hard to let go and you may feel this will take you further away from your mum.
“Trying to do things the same and keep those traditions shared with our mum can make us feel even lonelier,” says Champ, “therefore, we should try something new.”
“Each year my sister buys mum a lovely Mother’s Day card and pins it on her family kitchen board, gets the photos out and talks about what mum would be saying to her about where she is in her life at the moment,” says Champ.
“Imagining mum there with her words of wisdom keeps her positive influence shining. This is a wonderful way of bringing your mum’s advice to you in those times of need.”
Every year, Champ buys an orchid for her mum. and says: “The times I feed and nurture it, I am with mum.”
Doing something in memory of your mum 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,” Harris suggests.
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 mum smiling down on you.”
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 mum,” suggests Harris.
Let it be OK to shed some tears for your mum, 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.”
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 mum, 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.
Champ suggests that when you need to give your mum a hug, put your arms around those you share your life with and give them her hug.