Mother’s Day is a time for lots of personal feelings and memories. Whilst some people may count the day as a celebration, painful memories can be evoked for others, particularly when there are lots of triggers such as the range of cards and flowers on display in shops. It doesn’t matter whether someone is recently bereaved or reflecting on a death from many years ago – days like Mother’s Day can have a big impact regardless of time. This can also be the case with dementia where some people can experience feelings of loss and grief, due to changes in the person they love.
You may feel a whole host of emotions ranging from denial, isolation, anger, depression and may not even feel anything at all. Everyone grieves differently so what may mean a normal grieving process for one person may not be for another.
We’ve put together some suggestions of things which can help during what can be a challenging period:
Be kind to yourself
Practically, physically and emotionally, this can be a difficult day. Sometimes the best thing you can do is consider your own needs. If visiting a care home or travelling to a large family get-together, you may ask around to see if someone can drive for you. Never be afraid to ask for help from a friend or neighbour so you can take time out by going for a manicure or a football game or simply walking alone or with others. Even though you may be sad or feel like you should be mourning, it is still ok to enjoy yourself.
Grieve in your own way
Give yourself time to grieve and recognising it could be a tough day is a key part of this. It is ok to cry and feel sad if someone you loved has died. For some people caring for a relative with dementia, you may experience loss even while the person is still living. Relationships may start to change and you could find it hard to recognise the person who you love. Acknowledging that this is anticipatory grief can be an important step to understanding your feelings. Looking at family photographs together and playing a favourite song of theirs can be good ways to trigger memories, reminisce, and find some connection with the person.
Reflect in your own way
You may wish to mark the day by visiting somewhere special or sharing stories of your mum with others. However you may wish to just have a quiet day on your own. Whatever you choose is fine and if you change your mind on the day that is also fine.
– Caroline Scates, Deputy Lead – Professional and Practice Development Team
You can look for more guidance and support through our resources on Understanding Dying and Bereavement. You can also seek help from a health professional or call our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678.