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Navigating Mother’s Day While Grieving the Loss of a Child

Picaluna Funeral Directors and Celebrants specialise in creating meaningful and personalized Memorials, even long after the initial funeral. With their compassionate approach and expertise, Picaluna can help heal the wounds of an unsatisfactory service by organising a special Memorial dedicated to the child on Mother’s Day. This unique and heartfelt tribute offers an opportunity for families to gather, share stories, and celebrate the life that was tragically lost. By working closely with the bereaved family, a Picaluna Funeral Director or Celebrant ensures that every detail of the Memorial reflects the child’s spirit and the love that still endures. This thoughtful gesture provides a chance for healing, as it offers a more fitting and meaningful way to remember and honour the child on this significant day.


Mother’s Day is traditionally a time of celebration, honouring the love and bond between mothers and their children. However, for those who have lost a child, this day can evoke profound sorrow and emptiness. Grief can make Mother’s Day a painful reminder of what might have been. 

In this blog post, we will explore the complex emotions and challenges faced by mothers grieving the loss of a child on Mother’s Day. We will also discuss strategies for coping with grief and finding solace amidst the reminders and expectations that accompany this day.

The Primal Loss of a Child

Losing a child is an indescribable pain, one that is often difficult for others to comprehend fully. The grief experienced by a mother who has lost a child is profound and enduring. Whether the child was stillborn, passed away in infancy, as a young child, or even as an adult, the void left behind is immeasurable. The guilt that often accompanies such loss, especially in cases involving addiction or suicide, can compound the grief and make it even more challenging to navigate.

Unique Grief Journeys

Grief is a deeply personal experience, and no two individuals grieve in the same way. Even parents who have lost the same child will embark on their own unique grief journeys. Mother’s Day serves as a stark reminder of the milestones their child will never reach, intensifying the grief and longing for what might have been.

Managing Expectations

When grieving the loss of a child, it is essential to manage expectations, particularly when it comes to the support of friends and loved ones. Our society often lacks understanding when it comes to grief, and people may unintentionally overlook the significance of Mother’s Day for those who have lost a child. Communicating your needs directly to friends and family can help alleviate disappointment. Whether you desire a simple phone call, a coffee date, or some alone time, expressing your wishes allows others to offer support in the way you need it most.

Discomfort and Fear

The immense grief experienced by a bereaved parent can make others uncomfortable, even close friends. The thought of their own child’s mortality may elicit fear, preventing them from offering you proper condolences and support. Understanding that this discomfort often stems from their own fears can help navigate these complex dynamics and foster empathy.

Responding to Well-Wishes

On Mother’s Day, well-meaning strangers may offer greetings or wishes, unaware of the grief carried by some mothers. If you find it challenging to respond in the moment, a simple ‘thank you’ can suffice. However, if you feel compelled to engage in conversation, you might choose to gently educate the person about the range of emotions experienced on this day. Remember, there will be days when you have the energy to raise awareness, and other days when self-care takes precedence.

Honouring Your Child’s Memory

There is no right or wrong way to spend Mother’s Day while grieving the loss of a child. Some mothers find solace in visiting their child’s resting place at a cemetery, or at the places where their ashes were scattered, while others prefer engaging in activities their loved one enjoyed. 

Find Solace in Support Groups

When navigating the grief of losing a child on Mother’s Day, connecting with others who have experienced similar loss can offer a profound sense of understanding and companionship. Support groups provide a safe space for individuals to share their stories, express their emotions, and find solace in the company of those who can relate to their pain.

Sibling Grief

On Mother’s Day, the grief experienced by siblings of a deceased child can be especially poignant. Your children will likely be grieving too: the funeral may still be fresh in their mind. They too carry the weight of loss, and additionally they may witness their own mother’s profound sorrow. This day serves as a reminder of the empty space left by their departed sibling. As they see their mother’s eyes well up with tears and her heart ache with longing, siblings may grapple with a complex mix of emotions. They may feel a sense of guilt for being alive while their brother or sister is not, questioning their place in the family dynamic. The absence of their sibling’s laughter and presence on this day can intensify their own grief. Siblings of a deceased child yearn to honour their mother and support her through her pain, while also trying to navigate their own feelings of loss and sorrow.

Balancing Grief and Other Children

For mothers who have surviving children, celebrating Mother’s Day can present conflicting emotions. It is crucial to give yourself the space and time to grieve first thing in the morning, attending to the loss of your child before tending to the needs of your other children. Acknowledging your grief and allowing yourself to process it fully can help prevent suppressing painful emotions throughout the day.

Embracing Your Choices

Whether you choose to stay busy and distract yourself from the day or embrace solitude and reflection, it is essential to honour your choices. Understand that regardless of how you spend Mother’s Day, thoughts of your child will inevitably arise. Grant yourself permission to grieve in whichever way feels most authentic to you. If that means staying in bed, indulging in comfort food, or cancelling plans, remember that it’s your day to navigate your grief on your terms.

Evolving Needs

As time passes, it’s crucial to recognise that what worked for one Mother’s Day may not be suitable for the next. Grief is a fluid and ever-changing process, and your needs and preferences may evolve over time. Be open to reassessing how you approach Mother’s Day each year and give yourself the flexibility to adjust your plans accordingly. Trust your instincts and allow yourself the space to grow and heal.


Mother’s Day can be an incredibly challenging and painful time for mothers who have experienced the loss of a child. The absence and sorrow may feel overwhelming, and reminders of what might have been can be difficult to bear. However, by acknowledging the uniqueness of each grief journey, managing expectations, finding support, and honouring your child’s memory, it is possible to navigate this day with greater understanding and self-compassion. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and your feelings and choices are valid. Give yourself permission to embrace the day in a way that allows you to honour your child’s memory and find solace amidst the pain.

Services that may be helpful…

Picaluna Charity Partner – Griefline provides telephone and online counselling services. 

SANDS provides support for bereaved parents following pregnancy loss from miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.

The Compassionate Friends Australia – provides friendship and understanding to support bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents after the death of a child of any age.

You can also contact a counsellor through the National Association for Loss and Grief.

by Funeral Celebrant Julie Muir

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