Mother’s Day Without Mum: Coping Tips for Grieving Children
Mother’s Day is a special occasion that encourages us to celebrate the women who have raised and loved us.
However, for children who have lost their mum or don’t have a mum, it can be a painful reminder that she’s not there.
In this article, we will discuss ways to help children who have lost their mum navigate Mother’s Day.
Here are some simple ideas to help children who have lost a mum navigate Mother’s Day:
Plan ahead of time
Talking to the child about how they want to spend Mother’s Day a few weeks ahead of time can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. There is no right or wrong way to spend the day, but discussing it ahead of time can help the child feel included and avoid potential conflicts.
Create a safe space to talk about their mum
Create a space where it’s okay to talk about their mum. Children may think that talking about their mum makes others sad, so it’s essential to reassure them that talking is good. It may bring feelings to the surface, but it can help them deal with their emotions. However, 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 will give 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 their mum was still alive. 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.
Alternatively, 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).
Take a break from the day
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 when the absence of their mum might feel most apparent. Try to 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.
Remember that grief is a process, and children may need different types of support at different times.