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Dealing with the grief of losing a mother: A helpful guide

February 26, 2021

Losing your mother or a motherly figure can be one of the most emotional and painful experiences you’ll ever go through. 

This blog will guide you through a myriad of emotions you may be experiencing and will provide useful tips on how to support children grieving the loss of a mother.

Missing your Mum on special occasions

If you are struggling with grief of losing your mother or a motherly figure, special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Christmas, Birthday’s or anniversaries can be challenging. Below we’ve compiled five useful tips to help you deal with loss.

Be kind to yourself – There are five stages of grief from denial to acceptance and you may experience each stage at different times. Understanding these different stages will help you to realise that all the strange feelings you are feeling are perfectly normal.

Talk to your loved ones or friends – By sharing your fondest memories and stories of your mother with someone, can help keep their memory alive and bring some sense of comfort.

Do an activity your mum would love – From cooking her favourite meal, baking a cake, a spot of gardening or even watching one of her favourite TV shows/ Films.

Visit their grave or memorial spot – Taking the time to visit your mother’s grave or memorial spot can help bring you some comfort and time to reflect. 

Practice self-care – Take the day to love and nurture yourself. Run yourself a hot bath, practise yoga, sing, dance, do things that make you smile.

Ask for help – Losing a parent or loved one can be a difficult process, there is no shame in asking for help or extra support if you feel like you are struggling. It maybe helpful to speak to someone outside of your family and friend circle such as your GP or a bereavement specialist. 

NHS approved, Cruse Bereavement Care offers a wide range of support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies.

Supporting grieving children

For a child who has recently suffered the loss of a mother or motherly figure, the feelings of grief can feel confusing and frustrating. 

Be patient – Children process and express grief differently from adults. Children may go from playing and laughing one minute to floods of tears the next. Be patient with them and let them know that it is ok to feel this way.

Consistency is key – Try to maintain household routines such as mealtimes, bedtimes etc. as much as possible. Structure and consistency are important to a child as they will help to create a sense of security.

Answer their questions – Naturally, children ask a lot of questions and this is no different when it comes to death. Answering any questions children might have about death and why it happens, will help give them a better understanding as to why they are experiencing certain emotions. If you find some questions too difficult to answer, there are many children’s books available that can help explain death in a ‘child friendly’ manner. You can find a list of over 60 children’s books on the topic of death and grief here.

Create a ‘Memory Box’ – Filling a box with photos, keepsakes and other special items is a great activity to do with children to help them feel more connected to a lost one. It is also a tangible item that children can keep going back to when they are feeling sad. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Memory-Box

If you are concerned that your child is struggling to cope or have noticed any unusual behavioural changes, you can seek further help and advice from your GP or organisations like Child Bereavement UK and Hope Again.

Prioritising your health and wellbeing

It can be difficult to think of anything else when dealing with grief, but taking some time to focus on the importance of your health and wellbeing can be beneficial, and can even help clear your mind.

Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the most common cause of death and disability in women worldwide.

Losing a loved one to a disease such as cancer can spark worry into your own health and wellbeing. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risks of cancer: 

Tobacco use – Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death worldwide and is the leading cause of over 7 million deaths per year. Quitting at any age can make a huge difference, increasing your life expectancy and improving your quality of life.

Physical Activity – Maintaining a healthy weight and making physical activity part of your everyday life can help reduce your risks of cancer and other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Alcohol – By reducing and limiting how much you drink, can reduce your risk of 7 cancers including breast, mouth and bowel cancers.

If you are worried about cancer in your family – If you have recently lost your mother or another strong female figure in your family to cancer and are worried if it could be hereditary, the Ovarian Cancer Action website offers a ‘Hereditary Cancer Risk Tool’ which can help to assess your risks of developing certain cancers.

Early detection saves lives – There are many different types of cancers, and symptoms are varied, however, the earlier cancer is detected the higher the chance that it can be successfully treated.

If you are concerned about your health or have experienced any unusual symptoms or changes in your body, don’t be afraid to contact your doctor immediately.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm#:~:text=Smoking%20is%20the%20leading%20cause,7%20million%20deaths%20per%20year.&text=If%20the%20pattern%20of%20smoking,to%20tobacco%20use%20by%202030.

https://ovarian.org.uk/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/alcohol-and-cancer

https://www.macmillan.org.uk/

https://www.cruse.org.uk/

https://www.hopeagain.org.uk/

https://www.worldcancerday.org/

https://waltercarter.com.au/blog/lost-without-her-missing-your-mum-on-mothers-day

https://www.childbereavementuk.org/supporting-bereaved-children-and-young-people

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