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Mother’s Day – what to do if a child you know is without their mum this year

Published by Caroline, 20 Mar 2019

March 31st is Mother’s Day and for weeks, the cards have been in the shops, emails have been coming through about lunches, afternoon teas and how to treat your mum.

For children whose mum has died, it can be a really hard day to face, both for them and their family.

Here is some advice from our Programme Manager Debbie McSwiney ahead of Mother’s Day.

She says: “Communication is vital to help a child cope with a big celebration day such as Mother’s Day.
“Most children will want to talk about it and acknowledge it, not pretend it isn’t happening.
“If you have more than one child, they may want to do different things and that’s OK – you just need to find out what they’d like to do and try your best to accommodate it.”

DO:
Plan:
Come up with ideas before the day. It will reduce anxiety and help to manage the day.

Ask:
Ask the child what they’d like to do – make a card, visit somewhere their mum liked, do something their mum liked to do. It might be just listening to her favourite music or watching a film.

Talk:
Talk about the day – explain that although mum isn’t here, she can still be a remembered.

Choose:
Allow the child to choose a different female role model in their life to focus on for Mother’s Day. It’s OK for them to do this without forgetting their mum.

Help:
Ask the child’s family if they need any help with Mother’s Day before you do anything – your help may not be as welcome as you mean it to be.

School:
Find out what’s happening at school. Younger children usually make cards in class and your child might quite like to join in rather than being removed from the classroom do help with a ‘job’ – always with the kindest intention but not always the right approach.
If you are a teacher, talk to the child’s family about the best approach to take. You may be a part of the discussion around what the child would like to do.

DON’T:
Ignore:
Unless that’s what your child asks for.

Right/wrong:
There is no right or wrong way to cope with the day – every family is different and it’s what’s best for you and your child that matters.

Take over:
Allow friends or family to help, as long as they’re not taking over – it must be the child’s choice. If they weren’t involved with your Mother’s Day in the past, they most likely don’ t need to be a part of it now.

Involve:
Choose something to do that they haven’t been involved with – most children would like a say in what’s happening.

No surprises:
Don’t surprise them with anything – the child is likely to want to know what’s going on so they can work through their thoughts and emotions ahead of the day.

If your family needs help to support a bereaved child aged from 6-16, please get in touch with us.

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