Coping With Grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Holidays and special days can be challenging and stressful, especially when grieving the death of a loved one. They stir up memories, evoke powerful feelings and emotions, and can leave us feeling very disoriented.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be extremely difficult. These suggestions are intended to provide some tips, ideas or “food for thought” on how to cope with these special days.

As grief is unique to each person, some of these suggestions will work, others may not work so well. This is a time where you get to experiment and begin to determine what works best for you.

It’s important to remember not to compare your grief to others because it won’t be the same.  As well, be sure to treat yourself with patience and kindness throughout this time.


  • Not everyone will approach these special family honouring days with fondness or positive memories.
  • Regardless of the relationship to their parent, this day may activate some strong emotions and thoughts, memories, and that’s okay.
  • Strong emotions are just that – emotions. They are not a sign of weakness, or not “dealing well” with grief. They will come and go and over time, they will lessen in their intensity.

If Your Parent Has Died

  • As with all special days, it’s good to make a plan, even if the plan is to do nothing.
  • Expect to have emotions and lean into them when the arise – this is healthy.
  • Have a “plan B” in case you change your mind about plan A that day.
  • You might want to honour your parent on that day.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate; it could be as simple as lighting a candle with their picture beside it for the day. Or it could be preparing or ordering a favourite meal or dessert.
  • Talk about your parent to others. Let them know you’d like to hear their memories if this would bring comfort.  Remember that memories are bitter-sweet, bitter in that your parent has died and sweet because you have memories of them.
  • If your relationship to your parent was difficult you may want to not memorialize them and that’s okay. Plan to do something that is good for you that day, that will bring some healthy distractions and comfort.

How to Support Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

  • Say their name – people want to hear the name of their person spoken. It reminds them that others are thinking about their person.
  • Take time to listen.
  • Remember that you don’t need to “fix” the persons’ sadness.
  • Acknowledge that this is a hard day for them.
  • Remember that the journey of grief is unique for each person. Each will grieve in their own way as well as in their own time.
  • Not everyone cries. If the person did not usually cry before their person’s death, it’s likely they will not cry afterward. This is important to remember as one may tend to think that the person is not “grieving the right way.”

Are You Grieving?

Have you lost someone due to a palliative illness? All of our grief and bereavement services are offered free of charge to our clients and their families.

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