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Coping with Mother's Day Grief

March can be especially painful for those who have lost beloved Mums and Grandmothers.

And Mother's Day 2021 will see many more people grieving for loved ones taken suddenly, sometimes without the opportunity to say goodbye in person, or without the chance to hold a funeral with family and friends.

While the lockdown restrictions make it easier to avoid many of the shops filled with gifts and cards, there’s all the TV and online advertising to contend with. So how can you get through this period, and especially Mothers’ Day itself?

Avoiding the occasion is one strategy...but harnessing it might be a more useful approach and one that could prove healthier.

Grief does not respect timetables or calendars, it creeps up at the most unexpected moments, but can be relied on to colour previously happy occasions. Acknowledging a loss at each point of pain offers an opportunity for conscious remembrance and while that is harder for those instances that strike like a bolt from the blue, there are some moments you can plan and prepare for.

Mother's Day will hold happy memories that naturally amplify the absence of someone special and it is important to make space and allow yourself to feel the mix of emotions.

Active remembrance will help direct your attention and here are some ways to explore this:

Sending your love

Written expressions of love and appreciation are a traditional part of Mothers’ Day and you can still do this. A card or letter expressing your love, loss, pain and treasured memories releases these feelings in a private but powerful way. You can get children to create their own cards and artwork too.

Finding a place to keep these written gifts means you can review your own grief journey over time. This could be important, revealing whether you have remained ‘stuck’ in your grief and require additional support.

You can still buy flowers for your Mum and choose whether to display them at home, take them to her resting place, or donate them to a lonely neighbour in her memory.


We all speak to the people we have loved and lost. The most important people in our lives continue to be in our thoughts. If you telephoned each other regularly then keep this time as a ‘catch up’; continue sharing the events of your day and your mood. A favourite walk is another wonderful opportunity to connect by telling Mum about what you are seeing or about the memories it triggers.

Remembrance through Your Senses

Taste - recreating Mum’s speciality dish or serving her favourite food and drink are ways to bring her into the present. Sharing these with others is a lovely way to allow the people around you to show that you are not alone.

Sound – music can touch us deeply, inspire us to move, raising spirits as well as prompting tears. Create a play list of your Mum’s favourite music, get others to contribute their musical memories and share why a particular song has been chosen.  Crank up the volume, grab the tissues and allow your emotions to flow, remembering the good times shared as well as the pain. The playlist will come to an end, drawing that remembrance moment to a natural close. Until the next time you need it.

Smell – fragrance creates memories that lodge in a deep and primitive part of our brains. They can transport us instantly to a particular moment and/or emotion. An article of Mum’s clothing can be a comforting touchpoint for many years, and you can keep a bottle of her favourite perfume to breathe in the fragrance. (One bottle can last a very long time, but you may want to invest in a second - in case the fragrance is discontinued in the future)

Sight – photographs, video, favourite people and places, things Mum made or treasured can all be harnessed. We can learn from other cultures by creating a shrine with flowers, photos and candles that you can light each day. This may be particularly helpful on birthdays and anniversaries.

Touch – a cushion, a coat, a toy, a’ll know best which item feels significant. You might have a scarf hanging near the door so you can see and touch it every time you come and go. Wearing a favourite piece of jewellery is both a private and public way to carry Mum with you.

An online memorial is another tool that can be accessed at any time, day or night. It can be just for you, or shared with others who can contribute their stories, videos and photos. Some even allow you to light memorial candles to mark dates that are special to you.