Supporting each other on Mother’s Day

Stacey Hector and Michelle Kaila are two mothers who have been supported by Very Special Kids, and have also supported each other, during and after the death of their children, six-year-old Marcus Hector-Parnell and three-year-old Isla Kaila.

On Mother’s Day, both mums have bittersweet emotions, particularly Michelle as this year Mother’s Day has also fallen on Isla’s birthday.

“I have always loved Mother’s Day, but since Isla died it’s a mixture of happiness and sadness. I look forward to spending time with my other two boys (Aidan 11yo and Noah 9yo) however this year will be extra difficult” said Michelle.

“It used to be a time of celebration but now it’s so hard” said Stacey, “some years I wish I could ignore the whole thing but I can’t do that for Molly (daughter, 11yo). That’s just part of being a mum, doing things for your kids because you love them – even though it’s difficult for you.”

Both mums agree the most important way others can support bereaved mothers on Mother’s Day is to acknowledge their child that has died.

“There seems to be this perception that I’ll get upset if Marcus is mentioned, however it’s often the opposite and not mentioning Marcus can upset me more” says Stacey.

Michelle relates, “Acknowledging Isla is still part of our family means a lot. I love when people text or email saying their thinking of Isla, especially on special occasions like Mother’s Day. Any chance of talking about her makes us really happy as we’re keeping her memory alive”

One of the most difficult questions both mums face is ‘how many children do you have?’ “I want to acknowledge Isla but sometimes it’s more about protecting the other person because the conversation often changes. I cope fine with answering, but sometimes other people get awkward” said Michelle.

“I’m a mum of two” said Stacey, “when Marcus died I didn’t suddenly stop being his mother, I will always be his mother.”

Since Marcus and Isla’s passing, the two families utilise the bereavement support services offered at Very Special Kids including bereaved family activities, bereaved sibling days, scrapbooking sessions and counselling through their Family Support Practitioner, Angela Flood.

It was through Angela that Stacey and Michelle were first introduced in 2013 at a Sibling Day for their other children, and Stacey now explains they share “an amazing connection.”

“My friends are supportive but Michelle is in a different league because of her experience. She understands me on a ‘mother to mother’ level that no one else can” said Stacey.

The Kaila family is spending this Mother’s Day at Glen Osmond Farm in Woodend, which is free family accommodation offered by Very Special Kids to families as a chance to relax and get away from the chaos of their every day lives.

“We love the farm because it’s a private space just for our family. It’s a time we can be away and reflect on the life Isla had with us” said Michelle.

The Hector-Parnell family will be spending Mother’s Day at home. “Molly will jump into bed with us and I will imagine what it would be like if Marcus was in there too. Molly knows I find it hard though, so she always tries to make it extra special” said Stacey.