On Mother’s Day 2020, Covid-19 was only just beginning to change our lives, with the instruction to socially distance and limit travel to essential journeys. For many, this meant the day was spent apart from our mums, as we trialled – as amateurs – a world of virtual connection and celebration.
One year on, we never could have predicted the losses we would have endured across the nation and world. Some people haven’t been able to see their mums for all that time, some have been grieving all over again for parents departed during a time when they’ve needed them most. For many more, the same virus that has consumed our lives has taken away a mother, too.
As Mother’s Day comes round, once again, we speak to five women who have, this year in particular, felt the pull of not having their mum around. They share their stories of why the pandemic has been hard and what they miss the most.
‘My mum and nan passed away an hour apart’
Kaz Foncette, 35, North London
“My mum and nan tragically passed away from Covid on January 12. They died an hour apart. On the Monday evening, I had spoken to my mum after she told me she tested positive for Covid. The very next day she was gone.
“We watched her take her last breath over a video call doctors had arranged for me and my immediate family – the only way we were able to say goodbye. I felt numb. I was in shock. I still am.
“One of my favourite memories and something I’m missing most is my mum’s daily phone calls. She called me every single day to see what I was up to and what I was cooking for dinner. We were both foodies. Sometimes the call never lasted more than three minutes. She could never do enough for people.
“Grieving in lockdown has been hard, but getting some sort of routine back was the biggest step forward. Listening to music, working out, doing my best to turn negatives into a positive whilst still allowing myself the space to just feel.
“This year Mother’s Day falls three days after my birthday so there are a lot of ‘firsts’ I’ll have to face without her. All I have now are memories and photographs. It’s time to create new traditions.”
‘I needed my mum’s laughter during lockdown’
Narinder Kaur, 48, Leicester
“This year, not having mum around, has been... horrendous. There is no other word. I constantly look for signs of my mother and it gives me comfort when I see a feather or a red robin or a rainbow. I’ve thought about her a lot.
“My mum passed away from a stroke in 2010. Initially, I was relieved that she was out of pain as she’d suffered so much. But then the grief engulfed me: panic attacks, shuddering, tears. I felt my heart break.
“She was the guru to my whole heart; my everything. I had so much respect for her, she was so wise. I remember at her funeral someone said to me ’your mum is one the those people who will never be forgotten’. She was so right.
“I now refer to my life ‘before mum’ and ‘after mum’. She loved me unconditionally. When I think of memories of her, I miss her voice, hugging her and feeling that warmth, and I miss her laughter, her sarcasm – I needed that during lockdown. She was my mum, and she was amazing.”
‘I became a mum without my mum around’
Shomoy Dormer, 31, London
“I became a mum for the first time in July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Giving birth was amazing, but it was so hard not being able to have my mum there due to the pandemic restrictions at the hospital. I really missed that support – I cried like a baby for her.
“Becoming a mum without my mum around a lot was really difficult. When I had a newborn, I’d FaceTime her for advice and support as much as I could. We didn’t have a close relationship when I was growing up, but we do now. She lives an hour away from me, pretty long during lockdown with a baby.
“I was only able to start seeing her more regularly when the government brought in ‘bubbles’. Before that, weeks went by when I needed her and wanted to see her, but couldn’t. Now I try and see her every Sunday. Having her able to help me out weekly, it’s been a saving grace. I’m so grateful for her support, I don’t think she realises how much it keeps me sane. I’ll never forget one of my now favourite memories of my mum, when she met my daughter. It melted my heart.
“I was also closely raised by my gran (my mother’s mum). It was extremely difficult not being able to see her throughout my pregnancy as she was in a care home. Unfortunately, my gran passed away on March 11, without being able to meet my baby daughter apart from via FaceTime. I’m distraught but glad I decided to give my daughter her name as a middle name – Evelyn.”
‘My mum’s been shielding, I can’t wait to hug her’
Jackie Hammerton, 57, Elmton, Derbyshire
“My mum’s lived in Kent since I was a child, about 170 miles away from my home now. We’re really close – my dad died when I was in my 20s, I’m an only child and mum has never re-married. She’s my best friend after my husband. Usually, we’d see each other every few months. Not since Covid.
“My mum has been shielding. She’s 79 and she has an auto-immune heart condition so has been really careful. My husband has also been shielding as he is on renal dialysis – so we had two reasons to be strict.
“It’s been horrible being apart. We managed to meet in the short summer respite, for which I’m grateful. But it’s been so hard. We FaceTime weekly so I can see her, but it’s not the same. She puts on a brave face when she’s feeling low because she knows it upsets me.
“Christmas was the worst. It was so late in the day that we found we couldn’t spend it together. Knowing she spent Christmas and her birthday alone was horrid. We posted pressies in January to cheer each other up a bit. Now, I can’t see her until May 17, when we’ll be allowed to mix indoors and stay overnight.
“I am so lucky in so many ways, I have a job that allows me to work from home, we’ve all kept well and there will be an end to this. But as you get older, time is not a guarantee. What am I looking forward to? A really really big hug from her.”
‘Grieving for mum in lockdown has been difficult’
Tamsin Oakey, 25, Didcot, Oxfordshire
“My mum, Lynne, was 53 when she died on August 6. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018, and by September of that year, she and my step dad had the unimaginable challenge of telling us her condition was terminal.
“In July 2020, we had bad news. She was no longer reacting to the treatment. We had no idea how long she had left, but I remember feeling so much anger that we had lost those precious last months – Mother’s Day, her wedding anniversary, birthdays, family meals, trips to the shops – to lockdown.
“Just over a week before she died, my sister and I moved back to the family home to care for her. We managed to get her in the garden for some sun and a cheeky glass of Sangria. We watched Mamma Mia together, and she sang along as she drifted in and out. But grieving in lockdown has been difficult. There’s nothing to distract me from the sadness that can engulf me for weeks on end.
“My mum was great. She loved to laugh, to dance, to be surrounded by her friends and family. Growing up, at weekends our house was always full of people. My step dad would cook for everyone and make her espresso martinis and vodka cokes whilst she entertained. It was such a happy and relaxed environment that I will always look back and think of it with a smile.”