Eight tips for handling Mothering Sunday when a child has lost their mum
For many, Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day encourages us to thank the women who love and raised us.
But for those who have lost their mum or don’t have a mum, it can be a painful reminder that she’s not there.
Whether the loss happened a few months or a few years ago, a grieving child can often feel left out. Children might feel angry that they don’t have a mum to celebrate with, or they might feel isolated.
A grieving child can be likened to jumping in and out of puddles. While they are in the ‘grief puddle’ they might feel sad and upset, however, it might not be long before they jump straight out of the puddle into playing a game.
This is because children can be very resilient. But it is important to remember that losing a parent will have a ripple effect that will continue throughout life, especially during the events that they feel their mother should be there for.
Here are some simple ideas to help children who have lost a mum navigate Mother’s Day:
Have a plan ahead of time
You could talk to the child about how they want to spend Mother’s Day a few weeks ahead of time, to make sure everyone is on the same page. There is no wrong way to spend the day.
Make it okay to talk about their mum
Create a space where it’s ok to talk about her. Children might think that talking about her makes other people sad, so be sure to reassure them that talking is good. It may bring feelings to the surface but it can help us to deal with them. Equally, it’s important to respect the child’s boundaries if they don’t want to talk about their mum.
Be thoughtful about school activities
Ask teachers about any planned in-class activities around Mother’s Day. This gives you time to find out if the child wants to participate or to do something different. You may also suggest alternative class activities that the child can participate in, for example, writing or drawing about a memory of their mum.
Make or write a card
Children might find it therapeutic to write a mother’s day card as they would have when she was still here. Making the card and writing down their feelings can be a creative outlet that helps them to put words to their emotions and can make them feel better about the day. Equally, the child might want to write a card to someone else who has been there for them such as a stepmother, father, aunt, or grandma.
Take part in other creative activities
Drawing, baking a cake, releasing a balloon with a message tied to it or planting bulbs that can flower in Summer are all therapeutic activities that can take your child’s mind off sad memories, while still helping them to reflect on their feelings.
Share memories if it’s comforting
Take cues from the child to know if they want to reminisce, share stories and fond memories. If it’s too soon or upsetting, these stories can be saved for when they’re ready.
Carry on traditions
For example, going to a certain special café or restaurant and ordering their mum’s favourite meal, or going for a walk in a place she loved.
Find a community support group
It is common for a child who has lost a parent to feel isolated. See if there are groups for bereaved children in your area, who might offer group activities and guidance near Mother’s Day (as well as year-round).
If you’re not ready to face it, or if you would just prefer not to acknowledge the day, that is of course perfectly fine too. There is nothing wrong with ignoring the holiday completely, unplugging from social media and having some quality Sunday family time like you would any other weekend. Go for a long walk in nature, take the day to relax and watch movies, and do whatever your family wants to do.
While children can be very resilient, Mother’s Day can be a time where the absence of their mum might feel most apparent. Try and have an open conversation with them about what they would like to do ahead of time, whether it is sharing memories, doing something she loved or treating it like any other day.
Bereavement UK provides a useful video and other resources to help you support a grieving child. You can also find a list of books on their website to help children process their feelings and start a discussion about bereavement.
Tags: family, family loss, mothering sunday, mothers day, parents
Categorised in: Latest News
This post was written by Anna Taylor