Mother’s Day is traditionally a time to spend time with loved ones to show mums how much we appreciate them.
However, when a parent has died occasions like Mother’s Day can feel difficult to manage for those grieving.
For younger children, it can also be particularly hard to navigate the feelings surrounding school or nursery activities during this time.
Busy Bees Nurseries has been supporting Child Bereavement UK since January 2018.
As they enter into their third year of partnership, the nursery group wants to use this Mother’s Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the important support the charity provides.
Busy Bees and Child Bereavement UK’s Bereavement Support Team have put together some practical tips on how to to support bereaved children around Mother’s Day.
1) Keep talking
Your child may hear other children talking about their mother and feel excluded, upset or confused.
It’s likely that they’ll have questions about why their loved one is no longer here, so try to answer these honestly and openly, using age-appropriate language.
While it’s natural to want to protect them from upsetting conversations, children are generally more able to deal with difficult truths than we may think.
From a young age, children are able to use the words ‘alive’ and ‘dead’, although they may not understand the permanence of death.
Avoid using phrases like ‘lost’, ‘passed away’ or ‘gone to sleep’, which can be confusing to children.
It can be useful to check your child’s understanding as you talk to them, and be prepared to repeat explanations and information in more detail if your child needs it.
Teachers and relatives may be asked similar questions, so offer the above guidance across your child’s support systems, to reduce conflicting explanations and ensure consistency.
2) Create memories
Doing something in memory of the special person can be a positive way to mark the occasion.
Perhaps you could cook the late parent's favourite meal, look at photos, or visit a place that reminds you of them with your child.
Creating a memory jar or drawing a special picture can also be great ways to mark the day, while also offering a chance to open a conversation around how your child is feeling.
3) There’s no right or wrong way
Don’t put yourself under pressure to stick to a plan, or to conform to what others expect of you.
Some families supported by Child Bereavement UK say that they get comfort from creating new family traditions, such as taking part in fun activities, while others prefer to have a quieter day.
Ask your child how they would like to spend their time, and include them in making choices about how they’d like to remember the person who has died.
4) Involving your child’s nursery or school
As well as discussing more general topics, it can be useful to speak to your child’s carers about how they will manage any activities around special occasions, so that your child doesn’t feel excluded or upset.
For instance, would they like to join in and make a card to remember their mum, or would they prefer to make a card for another family member instead?
Even if your child wants to do something completely different, ensuring they feel included and have choices, as well as knowing what to expect can help to reduce any feeling of isolation.
Each child will feel different, and it’s important to remember that there are no rules on how to grieve.
At Busy Bees, educators know that they have access to the professional guidance and support from Child Bereavement UK, should they need it, and are on hand to support parents in accessing help for themselves or their child.
Check with your child’s school or nursery to find out if there are any resources or support available.
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals both when a baby or child of any age dies, and when a child is facing bereavement.
Ensuring families have the support they need to help rebuild their lives, as well as accessible guidance and information, the charity also provides training for professionals and organisations to bridge the gaps that exist in bereavement support.
Confidential support, information and guidance is offered to both families and professionals through a national helpline. For bereavement support and information, please call 0800 02 888 40.
To find out more information about the support available, for parents, children and educators, visit www.childbereavementuk.org/
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