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Navigating Holidays and Anniversaries

Holidays and anniversaries can be especially painful after mom has died. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, holidays and the anniversary of her death all serve as stark reminders of her absence. Here’s how you can help make those days a little easier:

Set expectations. Let the child know in advance that they might experience some painful feelings that day.

Plan ahead. If there’s a way the day can be altered slightly to alleviate some of the pain, like celebrating the holidays with friends, creating a new ritual, plan them out together before the big day.

Give extra reassurance. Be supportive, let them know their feelings are valid and give them an opportunity to share their feelings and memories of their mother.

Celebrate the day. Children might want to have a cake for mom’s birthday or make her a gift. The celebration can include sharing memories about past birthdays or developing special rituals. 

It’s okay for it to be “just a day.” If children don’t want to do anything, that’s fine too. Sometimes an anniversary or birthday can put a lot of pressure on people to feel or act a certain way – let them know it’s fine to do whatever feels okay to them. There’s no right or wrong.