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Mother’s Day grief: The pain when someone has died

A grieving woman lost in thought

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Mother’s Day can be a huge emotional challenge for the bereaved, says Annie Broadbent.

Working through grief after her mum Caroline died of cancer led Annie on a journey to become a psychotherapist, with a particular interest in helping the bereaved.

So is it time, she asks here, for a dedicated day to acknowledge those who are grieving the loss of a mother, father or child and accommodate space to consider how they are coping with their loss?

Mother’s Day grief

pink flowers in a vasePhoto by Ben Coles on Unsplash

“10 Ways to Treat her this Mother's Day...”

We can’t miss the headlines and the in-store offers at this time of year...but what if she's not here to be treated?

Or if the person who would usually be treating you, is dead?

It’s not just the commercialisation of collective days of celebration like Mother’s Day that can evoke uncomfortable feelings. If you've lost a mother, or child, this Mother’s Day will hurt every time you read a sentiment telling you how to celebrate the day.

It’s not that these days shouldn’t exist. Since becoming a mother a little over a year ago, I've really understood the value in assigning a day to honour and thank mothers for the astonishing job they do. Likewise for dads on Father’s Day.

Acknowledging someone’s Day loss on Mother’s Day

A man places a compassionate hand on a friend's shoulder

Yet the absence of acknowledgement of those without mothers, or children is profound. When is their time to remember and express thanks, and for others to consider the loss they are living with?

I’m not sure the answer is for Clintons to start printing Mother’s Day cards saying ‘Remember her...even if she's not here.’

But I do wonder, if more effort was made to acknowledge the bereaved on days like Mother’s Day, perhaps they wouldn't feel so isolated and excluded.

Perhaps our sense of community would strengthen as a result.

Time to #GiveToGrief?

One way to address this would be to dedicate an entirely separate day for collectively remembering the bereaved. Not only might this ease the sense of isolation, but perhaps it would also contribute to making positive changes in our attitudes towards those who are living with loss. It could build a much needed bridge between the bereaved and the un-bereaved.

So how would it be if, once a year, everyone was encouraged to think of, and reach out to, someone they know who is grieving? Or simply dedicate one personal day of the year to supporting, listening and remembering with someone, just how they would wish. #GiveToGrief.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling book Speaking of Death (What the Bereaved Really Need), inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.

Regretfully, Annie cannot enter into personal correspondence

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