I was 19, Mum was 47. After battling for 18 months my dear mum succumbed to the disease we are all too familiar with, cancer. It's been a long 17 years without her, during which time I've learned a thing or two about grief.

One of the things I've come to realize is that grief is a journey that never truly ends. At the two-year mark, the five-year mark, and so on, I found myself feeling tired, angry, and frustrated that the heaviness of grief still lingered. Part of my grieving journey has been accepting that whilst grief has a start it doesn't have an end.

If you know someone who is grieving, there are a few things you can do to support them.

  1. Acknowledge the ongoing nature of grief: No matter if the loss happened recently or years ago, it's important to acknowledge that grief is a long-term process and that there will be good days and bad days. Check in with your friend regularly and ask how they are doing, rather than assuming they have moved on. Particularly on certain days, like anniversaries or holidays, as they can be especially difficult. Even if their loss happened years ago, ask your grieving friend directly, "How are you doing today?". This small act can have a significant impact on their well-being.

  2. Help your friend feel connected to their loved one: For me, it can be challenging to connect my mum to my current life, she was gone before I graduated from uni, before my 21st birthday and before I really found myself as a person in the adult world. I find myself trying to connect my mum with my current life which is especially hard when everyone around me never knew her. If your friend has lost their mum, ask them about her. What was she like? What were her favourite things? Talking about their mum is often not a taboo subject, it reminds them that her memory lives on and that others care about her too. If you're not sure what to say or ask, don't be afraid to simply listen.

  3. Avoid platitudes: Avoid saying things like "your mum will be with you" as a way to comfort your grieving friend. While it's meant to bring comfort, it can actually feel dismissive of the very real pain of their absence. For many of us, the painful truth is that our loved one is no longer physically present. While it's comforting to believe that they're still with us in spirit, it's a very different experience from having them here physically. Instead, acknowledge that the situation is difficult and offer your support. Saying something like "I'm here for you if you want to talk" or "I can't imagine how hard this is for you" can be more meaningful.

Sending love to everyone this Mother's day, it can be triggering for all sorts of reasons. Go easy on yourself and do what you need to do to get through the day. This looks different for everyone and that is ok. And if you know someone who is grieving, don't be afraid to reach out and let them know you're there for them. Your support can make all the difference.

Emma x
- Founder of After Hours Gifting
May 08, 2023 — Emma Mazur