Mother’s Day 2023: How Yorkshire families who have lost loved ones mark the day

Mother’s Day has long been marketed as a day of joy and appreciation - but for some people it can be a painful reminder of those we have lost.

For Joan Lawrence, this Mother’s Day weekend will mark 14 years since her daughter Claudia Lawrence, 35, went missing.

Joan said: "Mother's Day is always so poignant and hard for me as it was Mother's Day weekend at the time Claudia disappeared 14 years ago.

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“I still have the card she sent to me. Once again the anniversary of Claudia's disappearance falls on Mother's Day this year.

Faye Smith lost her daughter Gabi aged 12Faye Smith lost her daughter Gabi aged 12
Faye Smith lost her daughter Gabi aged 12

"We have no idea what happened to Claudia and where she is. It never gets any easier and I never give up hope. Who knows Claudia could even be a mother herself by now?

“I could be a grandmother. As always I'll be lighting a candle for her and putting her favourite purple tulips in her home, which I have never changed and which I've kept the same.

“We just want some answers as I know somebody somewhere knows the answer. I just want them to come forward and give me and my family some peace."

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Gemma Whelan, from Wakefield, said this coming Mother’s Day will be the third without her mother.

Faye Smith's daughter GabiFaye Smith's daughter Gabi
Faye Smith's daughter Gabi

She said: “The first was days after my mum had died and was a whirlwind of sobbing and disbelief. The next one was about surviving and enduring but this one I’m hoping to be different.

“This one I am planning to lean into grief so I can celebrate the wonderful powerhouse that was my mum and what joy and legacy she left me and my siblings.

“I was like a house without a roof. There was no one to give me shelter and all you are left with is a life to pack up, give away and learn to live without.”

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Sometime after her mother died and the dust began to settle, she began to think about all the things her mother had given her, such as her love of gardening and her allotment.

She said: “I began to recognise the generosity that I have inherited from her, as was my tenacious work ethic, her ability to stop a room with one word, wickedly short temper and allotment. That’s right, I inherited her allotment! Metres and metres or weeds and wonderful possibilities.”

Gemma’s mother Angela Whelan, had a sudden unexpected heart attack. She died on what would have been her husband's 70th birthday.

Gemma said: “Sadly he had died years before and when he did part of her died too. Her heart broke and she was never truly the same.”

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Following in her mother’s footsteps, Gemma took it on herself to sort out the allotment with her mother’s trowel still hung in place, the seeds she had lovingly labelled sat on the shelves, and her welly boots stood silently waiting for her return.

She added: “This Mothering Sunday you will find me elbow deep in compost holding my mum's trusty trowel, knowing that sometimes life is found in a world that we plant that we won’t always get to see bloom and will live on after we are gone.”

For Sheffield publicist Faye Smith, it’s the 10th anniversary of her daughter Gabi's death two days before Mother’s Day.

In her memory Faye - who set up Hope Walking - has led a modern day six mile pilgrimage.

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She described the trek as “a long walk with a spiritual purpose, whatever that looks like for you.”

Faye will be taking people on the last walk she went on with her daughter six days before she drowned aged 12.

Faye said: “She had been diagnosed by Sheffield Children’s hospital neurologist with a non-epileptic attack disorder.”

A coroner said on balance and probably had a seizure caused by trauma of her father's death.

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Faye is part of Sheffield walking group S40s Ramblers through which she has organised the walk and said anyone can book online to join the walk.

She added: “Come with your own people you’d like to remember in your heart, bring photos and walk in memory.”