Coping with the Loss of a Child on Mother’s Day
As a mother of 2 beautiful young girls the thought of mother’s day should be a positive one, but unfortunately every advertisement for mother’s day brings sadness to me. This is not because I think it is commercialized or unnecessary, I love the idea of having one day a year when the work of mothers is celebrated. But my sadness comes from the fact that I know that the day before Mother’s day is the 2 year anniversary of my son’s passing. So the day which celebrates being a mother reminds me so much of what we have lost.
We are so lucky to have 2 beautiful happy healthy girls, and I want to be happy on Mother’s day for them but the day is such a double edged sword for me. I wish that I didn’t have an overwhelming sense of sadness when I think about Mother’s day, but I like so many others have lost a little person and the hurt will never go away.
There is actually no word for a grieving mother; a child that loses their parents is known as an orphan, a wife that loses her husband is known as a widow but a mother that loses her child is not known as anything in particular. I believe this is because it is not a natural order event; no parent should have to endure the pain of losing a child so therefore we do not give it a name. The unfortunate reality is that so many mothers and fathers do lose children, and it really really hurts.
So how do we cope every day, but particularly on special days such as mother’s day? There is no quick and easy answer to this but here are a few tips:
Embrace your emotions – No emotion is ‘wrong’ when it comes to grief we all pass through it in different ways. Don’t fight with your emotions, but rather let them happen. If you feel that you are ‘stuck’ on any particular emotions such as anger or fear you may benefit from talking to someone about it. Whatever you do, don’t push your emotions away some days, such as mother’s day, will be harder than others and that is OK.
Honour your child’s memory – This is individual for each person, we have built a garden in memory of our son and when I want to spend time with him I sit there. This can be particularly useful for special events such as mother’s days or birthdays which can often be very difficult. By honouring the memory of your child you can include them in your special days
Trust in time – If I had a dollar for every time a person said to me ‘just give it time’ at the time I really didn’t want to hear it, but they were right. With time the intensity of my pain has reduced and the fog began to clear. This doesn’t mean I have forgotten but it just hurts less.
You don’t have to do it alone – Share your grief with supportive people, don’t feel that you have to bear the burden yourself. You may benefit from a group setting, consulting a therapist or by simply talking with family.
So as the days countdown I know I will get through William’s anniversary and I will also enjoy mother’s day. I will celebrate my 3 children and be grateful for every little moment I have had with each of them.
Dr Lisa Patterson-Kane is the developer of the Get Happy app and is the principle clinical psychologist of Changing Ways Psychology which is a practice that specializes in providing evidence based psychological therapy online. Lisa has over 12 years experience as Clinical Psychologist and is passionate about using technology to get around barriers to accessing services. Changing Ways Psychology aims to provide the opportunity to conveniently access high quality psychological services without needing to travel, organize childcare or take time off work through the use of epsychology.