Losing a mother can bring unimaginable grief. When I first sat down to write this blog, there was one story I couldn’t get out of my head. The story is about an Iowa mother who lost a prolonged health battle and passed away earlier this year. Unlike a typical news article, the reporter who wrote the story is her son.
The Des Moines Register article, written by Aaron Young, is a deep and personal look into what some families encounter before and after a loved one passes away. The article is detailed and leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s heartbreaking to read, not only because I know Aaron, but because he doesn’t spare any details about what it feels like to really grieve.
Mother’s Day can be hard for anyone who has lost a mother or mother figure in their life, especially if this year is the first Mother’s Day without her. It’s important to remember that grief is different for everyone, so what works for one family may not be beneficial for another. To help your client families who are in this situation, here are seven things you can encourage them to do to remember a loved one or a mother who has passed away.
1. Suggest creating a memento gallery.
Using old photos, hand-written notes and other personal items, encourage your families to create a wall or corner dedicated to their mother. This will create a space where they can remember their loved one.
2. Encourage them to plan a trip with her in mind.
If a client family’s mother was an avid traveler, suggest that they plan a trip to her favorite places. They could even recreate photos from the past with her children or spouse standing in the same locations she had photos taken.
3. Remind them to visit her.
A final resting place gives the families something to return to and is an important part of the grief process. Encourage your families to visit their loved one on Mother’s Day and celebrate her. They can do that by planting flowers or just recalling fond memories together. It’s important to remember that this activity might not be important for every family. They may be more comfortable visiting a place or doing an activity that reminds them of her.
4. Suggest they donate to a charity.
Whether their mother was an animal lover or a supporter of the local arts, suggest the family donate their time or funds to her favorite charity. It could help them feel closer to her while also helping the community.
5. Recommend spending time with family and friends.
If your client family includes extended family and friends, encourage them to spend time together on Mother’s Day. This may seem difficult at first, as it could make the realization that their loved one is gone even more evident, but their family and friends are the only other people who truly understand what they are going through during this difficult time.
6. Encourage them to share their favorite memory.
Whether it’s on social media, in an email or in a Mother’s Day card, let your grieving families know that it can be beneficial to talk about the happy times. Sharing thoughts and feelings in any capacity could have the same effect as journaling, which is an excellent way to manage grief.
7. Advise they give themselves space.
Most importantly, remind your families that it’s okay to not be okay. Mother’s Day could be hard for them and their family members this year and for many years to come. Remind them not to push themselves into situations that make them uncomfortable.
Whether a family has lost their mother recently or several years ago, Mother’s Day can bring up memories and complicated emotions. To help your client families cope with the death of a parent, learn more about the Finding Hope aftercare series from Dr. Jason Troyer.