On Sunday 22 March, many of us will be celebrating Mother’s Day with our loved ones. But for children and young people who have sadly lost their mum, the day is another stark reminder of life without them. Sally Roberts, a Children’s Worker at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, shares her advice on how to support a grieving child at this time of year…

Open up conversations

If you are supporting a child or young person whose mum has died, please be brave enough to acknowledge their loss. Children will miss their mum and more often than not, they’ll want to talk about her with others. By encouraging conversations and asking them how they want to celebrate their mum on this special day, you’ll be showing them that she will always be a significant person in their life. Of course, if the child doesn’t want to talk then that’s fine, but even just acknowledging their mum can make a big difference.

Do an activity

Going for a walk in mum’s favourite park, cooking a meal she loved or reading a book she treasured could help your child to celebrate mum’s memories in a really special way. Something as simple as laying flowers at the grave or significant place can help too. Remember, you will not hurt a child by reminding them of their loss – they don’t ever forget it – but giving them the opportunity to talk if they want to can be crucial in their healing.

Teachers can help too

I often hear how teachers will remove Mother’s Day card-making from the agenda as they don’t want to upset a pupil who has lost their mum. I know that this will have been done with the best intentions but actually, I would advise to have open conversation with the child beforehand and offer them the chance to get involved if they want to. When a person dies, it’s important we still create connections to them, and so card-making could help with this. By giving them the choice to participate or not, you could help them to feel less isolated and less ‘different’ from their classmates.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has recently launched Growing Together, a peer support group for bereaved children and young people. The group aims to increase your child’s confidence, reduce isolation and help them to manage any difficult feelings they may be experiencing. The group is open to all children, whether or not their loved one was supported by the Hospice. To find out more, please contact the Hospice’s Children’s Team on 0121 752 8753 or childrensservice@birminghamhospice.org.uk

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