How to Support Bereaved Children on Mothers Day

I miss my mum with my whole heart and I find Mother’s day very emotional.  I am 43.

I have counselled children who have lost a parent. It is heartbreaking. Mother’s day can be really hard.

Having a parent die when you are a child is not as uncommon as you may think. Every 22 minutes a child in Britain is bereaved of a parent. Every 22 minutes…

As many people prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, Winston’s Wish, the leading charity for bereaved children, is offering guidance for anyone for who the day could be a cause for sadness instead.

Throughout the year Winston’s Wish offers support and guidance to grieving children and their families, and provides them with the tools needed to re-build their lives after the death of a parent or sibling.

“Celebrations such as Mother’s Day can be a particularly difficult time as it heightens the absence of a mother for children,” says Helen’s Mackinnon Clinical Services Development Team Leader, Winston’s Wish.

“But it’s important for children to be able to acknowledge what their mother meant to them at this special time, so we would encourage anyone who is facing Mother’s Day with a sense of dread to use the day as an opportunity to remember and celebrate Mum’s life.

“Our work over the last 20 years at Winston’s Wish shows that children welcome the opportunity to talk about their mum and to share memories and feelings. Children find it most difficult when they feel they cannot talk about the person who has died for fear of upsetting others. Even young children may try to protect a surviving parent, but if you let them know it is ok to be sad you will be showing that we don’t need to bottle up our feelings. There may be some tears – but there will be smiles and laughter too and this is a really healthy mix and helps children adjust to their loss.

Here are some suggestions ….

  • If you are a teacher and would normally make Mother’s Day cards with your class do feel you can go ahead. It will help a bereaved child if you do quietly acknowledge that this may be difficult but say that children can find it really helpful to have a way of showing how much they love their mum and still think about her.
  • Take a special card to mum’s grave or to where her ashes were buried or scattered
  • Tie your Mother’s Day card, or a special message, to a helium balloon and watch it float into the sky

support bereaved children on mothers day

  • Blow some bubbles and send her your love inside each one of them
  • Plant some bulbs or a shrub in a place that holds special memories of your Mum
  • Share her favourite meal with your family. Fish and chips? Roast dinner?
  • Listen to her favourite music – you could make a playlist and listen to this at other timers too when you want to feel close to her
  • Begin to keep a memory box* in which to store things that remind you of her – photos, her perfume, jewellery, ornaments
  • Make or buy a new frame for your favourite photograph of her
  • Ask your Grandma or Grandpa for their memories of Mum as a little girl and/or ask your Dad for his memories of when he and Mum met or talk with her friends about their special memories. This is particularly important when a mum has died leaving very young children
  • Write her a letter or a poem. Perhaps you could start with something like ‘If you came back for just five minutes I would tell you…’

I think these are all great suggestions. Please share them with families who may need them.

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4 Comments

  1. March 7, 2013 / 10:23 am

    Thanks for post, Becky. It’s not a topic that gets much attention at this time of year, but it’s a very real one for lots of kids (and grown-ups too). Tough to get the balance right, but acknowleding it is a good start. Have heard good things about Winstons Wish, definitely worth supporting.

  2. March 13, 2015 / 1:17 am

    An excellent post Becky, and one that is much needed I think. as you say, if mothers day is tough as an adult when you’ve been bereaved, I can’t imagine how tough it must be as a child. I’ll share this with friends of mine who are teachers because I know they’ll find it helpful. xx
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  3. March 13, 2015 / 9:16 am

    I’m in tears reading this. I luckily still have my mum here with me, but I have lost my dad and know just how difficult father’s day can be as a result. I’ve heard amazing things about Winston’s Wish and know a few people that they have helped. An amazing charity.
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