A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
A number of people have asked me what I’m planning to do for Mother’s Day this year. It’s an easy one to answer for me. I’m going to buy my mum a card and a present and tell her that I love her.
It’s not so easy for my son though. He’s only two-years-old so the day could easily pass unmarked without him noticing. But I do understand that it will get more difficult to deal with as the years go by and I never want to brush things under the carpet for the sake of an easy life.
Personally, I’m also going to try to approach significant calendar dates positively. There are enough miserable, sad days in the year now for me to accentuate holidays and key events throughout the year with more doom and gloom.
So this Mother’s Day I’m going to buy Desreen flowers from her favourite florist and put them in her own living room rather than in her shared grave yard, because I know she hated sharing. I’m also going to spend time talking to my son about his mummy. We’re going to go shopping and buy something overpriced to make the house look nice too. I know what she liked because she had the foresight to leave me with a folder full of pages torn out of magazines, just in case she ever caught me with money to burn.
I’ve also been sent the following advice from Child Bereavement UK, which might help others whether it’s children who have been left without a mum or parents who have lost a child.
Coping with Mother’s Day
Over the years the prominence and commercial aspects of Mother’s Day have grown and grown. From at least a month before the actual date it is impossible to avoid shops full of cards and gifts, adverts about special bouquets and lunches, and we are surrounded by reminders of that special role of Mother and the day of celebration.
But for many families, Mother’s day is a poignant reminder of a special mum or precious child that has died, and the anticipation of that day looming can be particularly difficult. So often, people say they just wish they could cancel it from the calendar.
When children are bereaved
For children bereaved of their mum, the day can be very hard. Sometimes people think it will be easier if they carry on as if nothing has happened, but this usually isn’t very helpful. Many children have told us it actually helps to be able to do something to remember their mum on Mother’s Day.
Families have found lots of different ways to mark the day and think about the things that made their mum so special, such as:
Some children have told us they can feel really angry on days like this when everyone else looks so happy with their mums. They’ve found joining in a competitive sport, having a good run around outside or hitting a punch bag has used up some energy and helped them with these angry feelings.
When a child has died
When a child has died, Mother’s Day can be a time when that child’s absence can be acutely felt. Where there are other children in the family, who naturally want to celebrate Mother’s day in the usual way, the gap feels even more evident and bereaved mums can feel they have to ‘go through the motions’ for the sake of the other children. When your child has died, shopping for a card and gift for your own mother can be really difficult too.
Some mothers who have lost their only child tell us that although they know they are a mother, the outside world doesn’t necessarily see them in that role any longer and this lack of acknowledgement can make Mother’s Day particularly hard when everyone is celebrating motherhood.
So often, people will avoid mentioning the subject with the best of intentions, but mums tell us having no acknowledgement can sometimes be more hurtful.
Families have found that doing something positive to mark Mother’s Day can help – having some flowers at home beside their child’s picture, lighting a candle to remember them, or doing something special on the day are just some of the things mums have done to acknowledge their baby or child that has died and their role as that child’s mother.
Alternatively, some mums have found it better to just get away from all the commercialism and reminders of Mother’s Day by going for a walk in the countryside or along the coast. It’s important that whatever you do, you do what feels right for you and helps you through the day.