There are many occasions throughout the year that are always a difficult time for those who are bereaved - holidays, birthdays, anniversaries - and none more so than Mother's Day. As an occasion designed to celebrate motherhood, it can be a very difficult and emotional day, when the absence of your child is felt on a truly profound level.
Corinna Robertson, CHAS Family Support Manager, shares her experience of supporting mums through their bereavement following the death of a child.
As a social worker with over 25 years' experience, I've supported many mums after the death of their child and my key focus is to reassure them that feeling a range of mixed emotions like anger, sadness or disappointment on such celebrated days is completely normal and acceptable. It is likely to be a day where mums reflect on their role and identity as a mother, as well as their loss, and they can often stumble when asked questions such as "How many children do you have?"
My role is to support mums like Nicola, Maureen, Samar and Lynne through this, working alongside them, giving reassurances that they will always be a mother and to demonstrate that, in actual fact, the experience of their child dying can often strengthen this identity as they were able to support their child through the most difficult times of their short lives.
"I just feel so lucky to be his mum, and still am his mum but I just feel so fortunate that we had the time with him to make memories"
Jack's mum, Nicola
As a member of the Family Support Team, I offer bespoke support tailored to the needs of each mum. I provide person-centred bereavement care, through being a listening ear for mums, allowing them to explore their emotions and by offering support to help vocalise and validate the difficult feelings occasions such as Mother's Day can stir. I also offer counselling if there's need for a more structured approach to the grief experience and if there are deeper spiritual issues that require exploration and support, I can introduce mums to our two chaplains who are available to provide pastoral care.
The most important thing I want mums to remember is that they are not on their own and the support on offer from CHAS has no time limit. Grief can present itself in many different forms and at different times, often when not expected, and our door is always open. As a member of the Family Support Team, I understand how important it is to talk about your child and I'm available to listen to keep the memory of the children alive with mums if and when they need us.