As we approach Mother’s Day, Hannah Martin, who has made up some of the world’s most famous faces, shares her thoughts on how to support those who may be struggling

Sunday 10th March is Mothering Sunday in the UK. While this will be a cause of celebration for many, it is also a day numerous people struggle with for a plethora of different reasons. Makeup artist to the stars, Hannah Martin, has cause to find it difficult: her mum died in her early 20s, she had a long struggle with infertility and she suffered the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages. Understandably, Hannah couldn’t go near a church on Mother’s Day for years because it was just too painful.  

We drew seven suggestions from a recent conversation with Hannah on Unapologetic for how churches and friends can make the annual celebration easier for people who are struggling.

For more from Hannah on how to support those who are grieving, check out next week’s Unapologetic, which will air Tuesday 5th March at 6pm. To hear how Hannah became a makeup artist to some of the world’s most famous faces, check out this week’s Unapologetic interview.


When celebrating mothers, acknowledge those who may be struggling

When people share on social media about their brilliant mums, all it takes is a tiny acknowledgment of those for whom either it’s a triggering image, or it deepens the pain and hurt that you’re feeling when you’re missing your mum. Someone once said to me: “What’s wrong with people? People should just be able to celebrate their mums on Mothers’ Day without having to caveat everything.” I responded that actually, I just think it’s a case of being compassionate and empathetic, and sensitive to those who are grieving. 

I miss my mum all year round, but Mothers’ Day packs a particular punch. I do share about my mum on Mothers’ Day because I have so few moments to celebrate her now that she’s not here. It’s a moment to acknowledge her, but also to acknowledge that there are so many people out there, either whose mums have passed or they don’t have relationships with their mum, or relationships are tricky. I feel like it’s really important to recognise those people, because there’s nothing more valuable than feeling like you’re seen.

Offer your congregation a trigger warning the week before Mothers’ Day and provide support

The week before Mothering Sunday, it would be helpful for churches to say something like: “Next week we’re going to be sharing a moment where we honour and celebrate the mums in our community, and we understand that this could be really painful for you. If that’s the moment where you want to leave the room, please feel free, there is no judgment. If you would like prayer, and if you are grieving in the anticipation of Mother’s Day, please come and find someone. We will be here to pray with you.” 

Then on Mothering Sunday itself, acknowledge, if anyone has missed that trigger warning: “We are aware that for many, you are here today with your heart heavy and broken. And we acknowledge and want to take a moment to pray for you in your sadness.” It’s about making sure those people in the room don’t feel invisible. 

Ask about and acknowledge people’s pain

If you know your friends are going through an infertility journey, or they have lost a mother or whatever their pain is, ask them how they are, acknowledge their feelings, validate their feelings, and then act upon what they’ve said. If you don’t know how they’re feeling today, how can you journey alongside it with them? If someone says: “Actually, I can’t cope with today, I just want to hide under my duvet…” You want someone who will say: “I’m so sorry that’s how you’re feeling.”

Offer practical help and acts of kindness

Once you have asked and acknowledged, then act. I remember when my mum died, people would text me and say: “Do let me know if there’s anything I can do.” And I was like, I don’t have the bandwidth or brain space to brush my teeth, and you’re asking me to think of something that I can ask you to do! I didn’t realise how grief can really just addle your brain, you really can’t think clearly.  

No one could bring my mum back, no one could ease the pain of losing a baby. But you could pop around with some flowers, you could turn up at the front door with some food. Our old vicar turned up one day with banana bread, and it was the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted! If friends are in a tricky phase, I’ll go around and just do the washing up or tidy or do the laundry – whatever I can see that needs doing. Don’t underestimate small gestures. 

Don’t leave people to grieve alone

There’s a lot of room for improvement in how churches support those grieving for whatever reason. I often didn’t feel supported in church. It didn’t feel like they necessarily recognised what we were going through. We had a prayer space at our church at the time, but it was right at the front. So you had to walk through the entire church, which felt a very public place to be grieving. 

People knew what we were going through, but the kind of outreach was almost non-existent. Churches are places where God calls us to do our best with all people at all times. And I think certainly in the UK, there’s a cultural attitude of “they’re really sad, so we’ll just we’ll just leave them to it”. I think we need to get uncomfortable in stepping into people’s grief and support them in it. There is space within church communities for acknowledging people’s pain, and doing better at coming alongside and supporting really practically.

It’s OK not to be OK 

I would say to someone approaching Mother’s Day who is struggling for whatever reason, first and foremost, I understand that it’s incredibly painful. And I understand that you’re going to be triggered left, right and centre. I see your pain and your pain is absolutely valid, let go of any guilt you feel. Your grief doesn’t take away from other people’s joy. So, just know that if you’re struggling, it’s OK. And I see you and I’m sorry. And I get it. And it sucks.

Hold onto hope

I want to help people journey better than I did. When we were in the middle of our infertility journey, my best friend’s mum bought around a little figurine with an arm outstretched, holding a balloon, which says ‘hope’. And it was kind of like, you might have to really stretch to keep hold of it, but just keep hold of hope. It’s not always easy to do, but I think once you lose hope, then it can feel like you’ve lost everything. Easier said than done, I know, because there are some days where it feels hopeless. But dig deep if you can.


For more from Hannah Martin on how to support those who are grieving, check out next week’s Unapologetic, which will air Tuesday 5th March at 6pm. To hear how Hannah became a makeup artist to some of the world’s most famous faces, check out this week’s Unapologetic interview.