Grieving on Mother's Day
08th March 2020
Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday can be a wonderful day for many, but it can be such a difficult day for some, especially those who are grieving a related loss. Since writing this original blog, Mother's Day will be different for many, due to 'social distancing' and 'self isolation'. So now is the time to think of anyone who may be struggling, through a grief or through these uncertain times.
Of course such a day touches so many - adults/children who have lost their mother, mothers who have lost a child, women who have suffered a miscarriage or are struggling to conceive, those in estranged families, adopted children/adults who maybe don’t know their biological mother, children who have lost a grandmother, grandmothers who have lost a grandchild, husbands and fathers who have lost a wife or daughter, the list goes on. The actual day and the build-up beforehand can be incredibly difficult and evoke powerful memories, emotions and feelings which are truly personal to each individual and each relationship loss.
Just like Father’s Day, Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day, the day is publicised widely many weeks beforehand, appearing on social media, advertisements on TV and radio, with cards, flowers and gifts filling the shops, all of which makes it extremely difficult to avoid or ignore.
So, if you are amongst those who are simply ‘dreading’ the day, what can you do to help survive the day and minimise stress, anxiety and upset?
Here’s a few things you can try:
Allow yourself to grieve, it’s ok:
- Recognise that it’s normal to feel sad and dread the day and this can heighten the complexed emotions you may already be experiencing whilst grieving.
- Often the anticipation of the day can be worse than the actual event, so be kind to yourself on the lead up to the day, allowing yourself time and space to grieve, reflect, think and share your feelings if you can.
Be kind to yourself:
- Recognise that the day and maybe days beforehand may be difficult, so be kind enough to not put yourself under any extra stress/commitments.
- Allow time to nurture yourself, reflect, cook, relax, sleep, meditate and time to talk to others if you can.
Prepare for or make plans for the day:
- Think about how you will best cope with the day. Would you find being with others a comfort or support (if applicable at the moment), would you feel it’s best to spend the day alone, do you want to mark the day in some way, arrange something totally different to normal or simply ‘ignore’ the day.
- If it’s a child that has lost their mother, maybe ask the child how they may want to spend the day and consider speaking to school about any activities planned in case they may find it overwhelming.
- If it’s a wife or family member that’s been lost, maybe talk about the up-coming day with family or friends and arrange a plan that best accommodates your needs.
- Maybe you will want to visit a loved one’s memorial or indeed celebrate your loved one’s life in some way.
- Maybe you want to be left alone. It may be a good idea to make others aware of this but have support on hand if you need it or change your mind.
Put yourself first, if you can:
- Doing what feels right for you may work best, but this isn’t always possible if you have other family commitments. If you can, consider how you can best get through the day and make it as easy as you can for yourself.
- You don’t have to do anything - maybe shutting yourself away, listening to music, watching a movie, pampering yourself, focusing on housework, painting, gardening, whatever may help you through the day. This may be all you can do, if you're 'self isolating'.
Make time to remember your loss:
- This can be talking about your loss to friends or family - this may have to be over on-line methods at the moment.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings.
- Take a few moments to reflect on and acknowledge your feelings.
- Remember your loss by lighting a candle, placing flowers, writing a card, releasing a balloon in their memory, sharing photographs and memories, or raise a glass or two.
Spend time outdoors or in nature:
- Going for a walk, visiting the woods or sea, gardening, cycling and jogging (at a safe distance) can all be helpful activities to do alone or with company.
- Connecting with nature, doing conservation and wildlife activities, even if for just one day, can give a sense of purpose and achievement instead of hopelessness.
Do an act of kindness:
- Volunteer, help a friend, neighbour, the elderly - sometimes helping others, even when you’re in pain, can help alleviate your own distress and help you feel of value and purpose. Maybe this is more poignant than ever, considering the current climate.
Don’t feel guilty:
- Try not to feel guilty for speaking up or doing what feels right for you.
- Don’t feel guilty for enjoying parts of the day or realising that the day wasn’t as bad as expected.
- You are allowed to grieve and also be happy - don’t feel guilty for smiling or having a laugh.
Remember the day will pass:
- Re-assure yourself that you have already overcome many difficult days, and this is just another.
- Use your inner strength to draw on things or people that have helped you before.
- If you are struggling, talk to friends and family or seek professional support (consider using on-line methods).
- Counselling/Psychotherapy for your loss during the weeks leading up to the day may help you to process complex emotions and enable you to cope better.
- There are many 24-hour support lines who offer support 365 days a year - Cruse, Samaritans, Mind, YoungMinds, Childline etc.
However you get through the day, please remember you are not alone, your feelings are valid and your loss is worthy of remembering.
“We are born of love; love is our mother”