Mother’s Day is a particularly difficult time of year for those who have lost their mother.
And, as Surrey Hospice Society’s Tricia Keith explained, the only people who can truly understand that grief are those who have been through the same loss.
Connecting with others through grief, and celebrating the person who was lost, is an important process, but starting the conversation can be painful.
“What was your mom like? How did she die? Only other people who have lost their mom can ask those questions,” she said.
On May 5, Keith will host a third-annual Mother’s Day Without a Mother event at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, which invites people to come together to grieve and celebrate memories.
“There’s power in finding commonality in loss,” said Keith. “People feel less alone, people feel validation.”
Keith, who is a trained celebrant, leads the group through a series of remembrances during the session. At the beginning, she said, “People are so nervous. All their grief is just percolating on the surface.”
It helps, she said, that she asks them to go through some preparation in the week leading up to the session. She asks participants to bring a photo of their mother, a story to share that “illuminates what she loved about life,” and a plate of food that she either loved to eat or loved to make.
Popsicles, Rice Krispies squares, strawberry cream puffs and “chocolate cake, of course” are all familiar treats for many participants. But whether your mom was a fabulous baker or whether she was more of a “tater tots” sort of cook, food is another symbol of love. Bringing the samples is a symbol of “mom’s love entering the room,” explained Keith.
The Surrey Threshold Singers, a group that sings specifically for those who are dying or grieving, will attend to sing non-denominational lullabies or chants. Threshold choirs sing for people passing big thresholds — “death and grieving being the biggest,” explained Keith.
After an introduction and sharing memories, the group will break to take part in the food that they brought. They then go on to decorate a mason jar as a vase. West Coast Seeds has also donated bags of wildflower seeds for participants to take home.
Throughout the session, the small group will be able to talk about what they need to.
“I would say that our culture is making steps towards having more conversations around death and dying, but we still are terrified of one another’s grief,” said Keith.
“We are so afraid to step on their grief. But studies show that when we give them a safe space to express themselves — and [show] that we are not there to fix or judge or change anything — that it is very therapeutic, and that it helps to relieve their burden.”
Mother’s Day Without a Mother will take place at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre (6188 176 Street) on Sunday, May 5, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event is free of charge, but participants must RSVP before April 28 to Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org as spaces are limited.
As June holds an important event for those grieving a lost father, Keith hosts a Father’s Day Without a Father event as well. The Father’s Day memorial takes place in two parts. First, on Sunday, June 2, participants are invited to Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre (13458 107a Ave.) to craft a lantern in memory of their father. Then, on the following Sunday (June 9), participants gather at Green Timbers Urban Forest, located at 14600 100 Ave, to walk around the lake and through the old growth forest by the light of those handcrafted lanterns.
For more information on either the Mother’s Day or Father’s Day events, visit surreyhospice.com.