flowers, heart and candle in memory

Surviving Mother’s Day when Mum has passed away

Mother Day can be a difficult day for anyone whose mother has died. Our bereavement support group hears from many carers and former carers who struggle with anniversaries like Mother’s Day.

We asked Tanya, a BACP bereavement counsellor, for her thoughts on coping with the day.

Facing the dread

Anniversaries such as Mother’s Day can bring up all sorts of powerful emotions, even if it has been a long time after the person has died. It is completely normal to feel this way, but sometimes the dread and anxiety can be overwhelming.

Sometimes people try to ignore Mother’s Day altogether. This is understandable, but avoiding the day can make things worse. Waiting for the day to arrive becomes more difficult than the day itself.

Facing the day head on and making your mum’s memory a part of it can help. Here are some ways you might choose to do that.

lit orange candle
Lighting a candle can be a helpful way to remember.

Find meaningful ways to remember

Some people like to turn Mother’s Day into an opportunity to remember and celebrate their mum’s life.

Looking at old photos, releasing a balloon, planting flowers or lighting a candle are some symbolic ways to remember.

You could also write a letter to your mum about your memories of her and how you feel.

What matters is that it is meaningful to you. How would you like to remember your mum?

Do something your mum used to enjoy

Doing something your mum liked to do is another way of celebrating her memory.

Was there a favourite place your mum liked to visit, or a hobby she enjoyed? It could be as simple as sitting in the garden and reflecting on the good times you shared.

Changing traditions

You may not be able to face doing what you used to do on Mother’s Day. To avoid putting pressure on yourself, let other family members know if you want to do things differently this year.

It’s fine to have a restful day, and spend some quiet time reflecting. Or you may want to create new traditions.

person using a smartphone close up

Tell others what you need

When someone has died, many people don’t know what to do or what to say. They may avoid the subject, or get in touch less frequently. This can leave you feeling like they don’t care.

Tell your friends and family exactly what you need. It could be as simple as a visit or a phone call. Don’t be afraid to ask those you trust for help.

Other sources of help

If you are a carer or former carer in Croydon in need of some bereavement support. or just someone to talk to, you can contact me on 020 8649 6280.

Cruse Bereavement Care has a dedicated national bereavement helpline (0808 808 1677). They will be open 9am-5pm on Mother’s Day (Sunday 31 March 2019).

Tanya is a BACP registered counsellor with a background in bereavement counselling. She runs Learning from Loss, a bereavement support group for carers and former carers in Croydon, based on the programme by St Christopher’s Hospice.

For more information about our support for former carers, call Tanya on 020 8649 6280 or email

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