Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate and honour the amazing mothers in our lives. But for those who have lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of what could have been. It’s a complex mix of emotions, as you navigate the grief of losing your child while trying to find ways to celebrate. To also honour your motherhood or your own mother, grandma. We’ll explore some rituals and strategies that can provide comfort on this challenging day and help you cope with the pain and heartache that comes with losing a child.
Acknowledge Your Feelings:
One of the hardest parts of Mother’s Day after loss is navigating your emotions. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or any other emotion that comes up. Try to acknowledge these feelings and give yourself permission to feel them. Journalling, creating art, talking to a trusted friend, or solace in the arms of your mother. if you need it are just a few ways that have helped others. Shedding tears of joy in remembering as well as sadness helps the body rebalance. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel it’s what works for you in honouring your feelings and emotions.
Create a Ritual:
Many people find comfort in creating a special ritual to honour their child on Mother’s Day. This could be anything from releasing balloons in their honour to lighting a candle in their memory, visiting a park that you enjoyed with them, walking in nature, or even talking to them. Choose something that feels meaningful and comforting to you, and make it a part of your yearly tradition. This helps you to feel close to your child and to keep their memory alive.
Connect with Others:
Grief can be isolating, but connecting with others who understand your pain can help you feel less alone. Consider joining a support group or contacting others who have also lost a child. Make plans with friends or family members who are supportive and understanding. You don’t have to go through this day alone.
Mother’s Day can feel overwhelming when you’re unsure of what to expect. Plan ahead by deciding how you want to spend the day. Do you want to stay home and have a quiet day to yourself, or do you want to make plans with loved ones? Decide what feels right for you and make those plans in advance so you don’t have to make any last-minute decisions.
Focus on Your Love: Ultimately, Mother’s Day is about love and celebrating the special bond between a mother and child. Even though your child is no longer with you, that love and bond still exist. Spend some time focusing on the love you have for your child, and the love that your child had for you. Write them a letter, or spend some time looking at photos or keepsakes that remind you of them. Focus on the love that will always be a part of your life.
Honouring your child on Mother’s Day after a loss can be a challenging and emotional experience, but it’s important to remember that there are rituals and strategies that can provide comfort and help you cope with the pain and heartache. Remember to acknowledge your feelings, create a special ritual, connect with others, plan ahead, and focus on the love that exists between you and your child. You are not alone, and there is no right or wrong way to navigate this day. Give yourself grace, and know that your child’s memory will always be a part of your motherhood journey.
This year, as we celebrate the mothers in our lives, let’s also take some time to remember those who grieve.
Let’s Talk About Grief Podcast Interview
I recently interviewed one such mother, whose child died and she shares her journey you can listen to her story HERE
To further support you – Here are a few episodes that might help bring you comfort as you hear from others whose children have died also.
Colin Campbell – Channeling Grief & Rage after Double Tragedy into Something Great- Colin found rituals comforting and created many of them
Michelle Benyo – Understanding a Child’s loss after a siblings death – son’s death from cancer
Ivan Maisel – Healing from the Pain of Loss, One Parent’s Story of Son’s Suicide
David Roberts – Turning a Father’s Pain into Purpose and Perspective – the loss of his daughter
You’ll find others on the Podcast that ultimately will help you feel less alone and hopefully listen to how others have navigated their own loss and found hope
Siblings are often considered our first and lifelong friends. The bond between siblings can be one of the strongest connections we have in life. When we lose a sibling, it can feel as though a part of us is missing, leaving a void that seems impossible to fill.
Sibling loss often comes with lingering grief that can stay with us long. Each time we are reminded of our loss, it can feel like reopening a wound that hasn’t yet fully healed. However, losing a sibling doesn’t have to define us, and we can find ways to remember and honour them, carrying their values with us.
Turn Grief into Something Positive
One way to turn grief into something positive is by carrying forward the values and lessons our siblings taught us. They may have taught us to be kind, and compassionate, or to push ourselves to reach our full potential. These values can guide our choices in life and help us create something meaningful that helps others. We need to focus on celebrating the legacy of our siblings by embodying their values and sharing their stories with others.
Sibling loss can also provide clarity on our life’s purpose. The jarring shock of losing a sibling can offer a profound reminder of how precious our time is. As a result, some people may decide to change their career path or reconsider their choices in life. They may choose to work in an area that they are passionate about, making a positive difference in people’s lives, as a tribute to their loved one who has passed away.
Losing a sibling can encourage us to cherish our relationships with family members and create meaningful connections with others. Whether finding comfort in their memories or following in our siblings’ footsteps by embracing their values and passions, sibling loss can ultimately teach us about the power of love and hope that emerges from the most profound sadness. Discovering constructive ways to overcome grief allows us to transform our loss into something positive.
These thoughts came about after having interviewed a recent guest for our Let’s Talk About Grief with Anne, Dr. Jennifer Kaplan Your can listen HERE
Much of the stress and tension we experience during this time is a result of our expectations. We do want to please everyone on our list and make the holidays memorable for all hence we can overextend ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
Regardless of whether you’re grieving a loss, or not you’re possibly feeling the anxiety and stress of living in these pandemic times.
Many areas are opening up while others are closing down again. We are continuing to live a roller coaster ride. The everyday realities of our day to day lives are already stressful without adding on the holiday season.
The question is “how do we avoid this stress?” Before you begin your whirlwind of seasonal preparations, ask yourself what the aspects of each holiday are.
There’s shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Organizing and getting our homes ready for entertaining and being the perfect host. What about the parties we may be expected to attend? Our minds are working overtime while in reality, we want to remain calm.
We have Hollywood and marketers to thank for helping to create these unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes it takes grieving for us to realize the pressure we put on ourselves to live up to what we believe “others” expect of us.
5 Ways to Simplify
Take time now to step back and decide what you want the holidays to be about.
If you always host – decide if you need help and ask for it or
Let everyone know, you’re not hosting this year and let someone else step up
Simplify gift-giving – draw names instead of buying for everyone just because you always do!
Chose which parties you feel you have the energy to attend. Speak to the host and if you’re grieving let them know it may get a bit much and you’ll simply leave. Plan your exit strategy as this will help you feel more relaxed.
If you’d prefer not to bother with any holiday festivities – then share your intention with your family.
Decide to give yourself a gift of your own company and book into a hotel, share your intention and be guilt-free about it.
Just for this year consider transforming your approach to your holiday celebrations instead of letting your expectation and Holywood perfection guilt you into doing more.
Your body and your bank balance will thank you for it!
It’s that time of year! You either love, hate or are indifferent to it. This is especially so if you’re grieving.
It’s is a harsh reminder of your loved ones who won’t be there celebrating with you. Your heart is heavy, your energy is low. Instead of seeing colour and the lights around you, your world feels grey instead. Perhaps you feel your light has dimmed for now. Take heart there are other ways to view this time of year.
Take time out just for you to be with your feelings and emotions and remember why we celebrate. Perhaps seeing your situation from a different perspective?
5 Mindset Shifts
step into and feel the essence of the season – love & compassion, goodwill and peace
let your heart be open and not closed down against further hurt – feel gratitude for having known them and take time to remember the ways they helped to give your life meaning
find memories and stories tucked away in your mind of your loved one and share them with others. Talk to them and about them. Say their name.
allow yourself to feel sad (don’t discount your emotions) list everything you miss about them and then check your gratitude list.
Laugh and cry, move around or shake/dance your emotions out. The benefit is you’ll feel lighter afterward
For now, something to reflect on……
The holiday season began in early November with Divali – which is known as a series or row of lights, Hanukkah began at month’s end and is a Festival of lights. The Buddhists celebrate Bodhi day in early December, the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year is next. Returning us slowly back to the light! Christians everywhere celebrate Christ’s birth which we celebrate with lights. They adorn some homes and gardens, on trees and lampost in some streets and of course indoors on our Christmas trees.
I think you’re beginning to see a picture here. Regardless of religion or culture, we all seem to have something in common and that’s our delight at seeing the world being adorned in light. This fuels us and gives us hope.
I’m not sure about you but I know, each year I want to feel the warmth, love and connections that seem abundantly available this time of year. Allow this to fill your heart.
To me, this is the essence of Christmas and this time of year.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy joy-filled holiday.
Please note if you’ve experienced a loss, do connect and know you don’t have to struggle alone. email@example.com
even then that’s been difficult because of all the covid restrictions.
No need to be reminded of how our world changed and shifted overnight and continued for 18 months plus! For the majority of us, we were left alone with minimal or no support at all.
Physical connection (or human touch) with our family, work, and/or friends had suddenly vanished. They could only be accessed via the phone or online platforms.
No hugs, no office, familiar routines, retail therapy, get-togethers, concerts, live sporting events or trips. These were just a few of the pleasures we lost.
Suddenly, our world changed and became unfamiliar. We were alone and left to figure out new ones with our friends and immediate households.
Collectively we experienced grief although for most it wasn’t recognized as such. When you look at it there was an ending, the death of the life we once enjoyed. The familiar had gone and all that was left with uncertainty.
Modern Technology Allows us to Stay in Touch
Not only did many families have to work from home, (those fortunate enough) but also they became responsible for the online learning for their children. Suddenly life became much more complex.
As if that wasn’t enough you may have experienced unexplained mood swings, temperamental emotions and shorter tempers. A slow build-up of frustrations with no escape, or minimal distractions available to help you cope. Worrisome for sure.
These are all normal and likely you were experiencing grief for the loss of “normal” and these emotions are to be expected during times such as this.
Throughout this period of pandemic restrictions, we have lived life on a roller coaster of HOPE. The anticipated and widespread availability of an anti-coronavirus vaccine and for life to return to its pre-pandemic normal times.
Fear, anxiety and distress were behind many of these emotions experienced during this time and were responsible for many of our behaviours. Each time the death statistics for those who had died because of COVID, our fear level increased.
A famous quote says, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” In the case of the pandemic, we have witnessed millions of death. Behind each death, there is a tragic story. Each time someone died, and often alone these bereaved families experienced an unthinkable level of grief.
This ‘pandemic grief’ experienced by them is likely to be more complicated than the pre-pandemic grief. In years to come, researchers and anthropologists will create a clearer picture of the impact this particular grief has had on those left behind. For now, we can only offer support and to be there for them once restrictions are lifted.
Funerals became Virtual Events
Even holding funerals (or any celebrations of life) have become extremely complicated due to the restrictions placed on any sort of gathering. Therefore, funerals were attended virtually by many bereaved individuals through the screens of their computers. Even, the intimate family moments of life were experienced online.
Some families may decide to hold off a funeral until larger gatherings take place. That way they can properly honour the deceased with the support of their families and community. But in their case, one question pops up in my mind: have they put their grief on hold too?
When the funeral does take place, some who haven’t experienced a loss, may question the need to hold such a gathering after all this time? It is well documented that support is still needed and appreciated in the years following a death. Sometimes the 2nd or 3rd years can be just as difficult. Your support will be appreciated more because the casseroles and support given to families soon after the death occurs just weren’t available.
Needs of Grief for Healing
The important role played by funerals in society can easily be disregarded by many people. However, ceremonies and rituals are parts of our DNA, and rituals provide comfort during our tough times. The funeral, therefore, is the most significant ritual in our society, as it provides us with an opportunity to say a final goodbye.
It is public; it is traditional and is part of the mourning process. An opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings about life, death, and our mutual affiliation with the deceased. In a memorial service, we can honour and celebrate the life of the deceased individual by sharing our collective stories.
We have an opportunity to remember the life of the deceased and recall how his (or her) life gave meaning to ours. In this manner, we are provided with much-needed support and allows us to realize that we are not alone in our difficult times.
Allan D. Wolfelt, Ph D., has recognized various needs, which are central to the healing process after we experience grief. We can find more about these needs in his book titled, ‘Understanding Your Grief.’
Collective Grief Healing
The endurance of grief necessitates support from other people, and it is not a solo undertaking. That’s why support for families is so critical. Also why we take time to call the bereaved families or visit them to listen to their stories over a cup of tea or coffee.
Please continue to bake your famous lasagna or chilli casserole and take it to them to show them that you care. It may be a year later but don’t underestimate the healing presence brings to those grieving.
During the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed how quickly our lives can change and how uncertain is life itself, especially without the familiar routines, This is how life is for many when their loved ones die. The unfamiliar situation becomes their reality of life.
With death or loss of our “normal lives”, grief will be experienced whether we realize it or not.
There is no hierarchy in loss, all loss is felt and experienced for what it meant to the person. Whenever there is an ending there will naturally be sadness.
Humans Need Connections & Touch
During our lockdown period, it was our physical connection and support that was missing. It’s the human touch we thrive on. The hug was an integral missing component during the pandemic period. We actually crave connections and physical touch.
Collectively we all need to heal from the Pandemic Grief by sharing our losses, and telling what this period meant to us. We must not compare our griefs: we must only listen to each other.
Perhaps we will in our communities organize ” loss gatherings” so that other people witness our stories and we theirs. In this way, we can all collectively begin to heal the grief we’ve all experienced during this time.
Please do not grieve alone, or further isolate yourself: Reach out, as help is available.
If you’re ready and committed to heal your grief and live your life fully, I can help you. You can always connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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