It's Mother's Day...But I'm Still Grieving
The time surrounding Mother’s Day is often joyous; the weather is warming, the flowers are blooming, and people are gathering close to celebrate and honor the matriarchs of their families. But for some of us, Mother’s Day is a struggle because we no longer have a living mother to celebrate.
A huge part of the population believes it takes about two weeks to grieve, but for anyone who has suffered a loss, it is clear that grief has no official end. Things may get easier over time, but there is no such thing as “getting over it.” So whether your mom passed recently or years ago, you’re probably still feeling the sting of Mother’s Day. The Hallmark excitement is unwelcome, and the constant commercials and ads are just stark reminders of the person you’re missing.
But there are many ways to handle the holiday, and while one option might not work for someone else, it might work for you. Like grief, healing is unique and personal.
If you want to memorialize your mother, you could get out photos and make your way down memory lane. As strange as it might seem, writing her a letter can feel therapeutic, as you can spill all your emotions and hardships to her, through writing. Cooking her favorite meal or getting out her recipe book could be fun, especially if you have kids to share in the experience. Through your own acts of motherhood, you can express a part of your mom in a way that allows her memory to live on. But if you don’t have kids, don’t worry. You’re still your mother’s child, and that in itself lends to the resurrection of her habits, voice, and even appearance perhaps.
Mother’s Day brunch is a common celebration these days, so to avoid other families and possible grief-reoccurrences, whip up your own breakfast or brunch, including some of your mom’s favorites. Or, if you always used to buy her a gift, purchase a bouquet of flowers and set them by her picture as a meaningful tribute you could return to throughout the week. And of course, you can visit her grave with flowers if you have that opportunity.
Sometimes it’s necessary to avoid the holiday altogether. You probably know yourself better than anyone else, so if the holiday is going to cause you more pain than you can bear, skip it.
Plan a large distraction for yourself. Take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been, or pick up a brand new hobby that requires plenty of learning and distraction (you also don’t need to spend too much here, but if you have the funds, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself). Maybe take your family for a hike or bike ride on the trails; an activity that doesn’t involve much interaction with other families or mother-child duos would be ideal. Be sure to keep the TV off and steer clear of all social media for a few days.
Keep in mind, too, that you are doing what you need to do to feel okay. Don’t worry about other people here. You’re taking care of yourself and that’s the most important thing right now.
-For Grieving Mothers-
The death of a child is considered the worst thing one can ever experience. And days like Mother’s Day can intensify your loss tenfold. It is astounding how consuming the grief can be, even years later, and the worst part is that very often people expect you to be over it. You know there is no getting over it.
Avoidance and distraction are very helpful on Mother’s Day. Same rules apply— no TV (unless you can find a show to stream that doesn’t include motherhood or child-rearing, or a series that has the chance to make you laugh) and no social media. A trip or vacation would be ideal, or a project you can immerse yourself in. There is no shame in walking away from something you know will create more static in your life.
But if you want to face some of the grief and emotions, there are ways to go about this. Get out some of your child’s things and just hold them, experience your feelings, and be ready to cry. Sometimes giving attention to your emotions and assessing them can help process grief a little more.
You can memorialize your child in many ways, sometimes by simply lighting a candle for them or visiting one of their favorite places. Have their favorite meal, watch their favorite show or listen to the music they enjoyed.
These ideas might bring more tears, but it’s important to remember your child’s death does not detract from your motherhood. You are still a mom, and your feelings of grief on Mother’s Day are completely valid, no matter how long it’s been.