Loss and Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a tough day for some. Those who have lost their moms may feel intense grief as we approach this holiday. Mothers who have lost a child may also struggle to cope. Whether the loss is recent or took place long ago, everyone’s grief is different, and these types of holidays or markers may elicit strong and difficult feelings.

Some of us may also have a complex loss which is triggered by Mother’s Day. Complex losses could include losing a loved one in a manner which is sometimes stigmatized in our society, such as through overdose, suicide, or AIDS. Other examples include being unaware of the whereabouts of a family member, and perhaps being unsure if they are alive, or having a loved one who is unresponsive or not fully themselves, due to dementia or other illnesses. There are many types of complex losses. Holidays such as Mother’s Day can be overwhelming for those facing a complex mother or child loss.

This holiday can also elicit feelings of grief for those with ambivalent or difficult mother or child relationships. Shopping for a card can even be difficult, as most Mother’s Day cards are created with adoring messages and gushing tributes. For those who do not have a primarily positive rapport with their mom it may be a disheartening experience to search for a card that feels like a fit. Mothers who feel unrecognized by a distant child may also be pained by this day. Sometimes this holiday might be a reminder of what we wish for and do not have.

If you are feeling a sense of loss as we approach Mother’s Day it is important to allow yourself to have your feelings, and to give yourself the space and time to feel them. You might want some time alone to reflect, time to write in a journal, or the opportunity to talk with a trusted friend or therapist. With loss it is normal to have a range of conflicting feelings. There is no correct way to grieve, and no time-table for grief.

For many, it is helpful to plan ahead when a difficult holiday is approaching. Having a way to honor lost loved ones is sometimes helpful; this could include visiting their grave, hiking on their favorite path, cooking one of their favorite foods, or engaging in an activity which is a reminder of that person. Another option is to create a day which exemplifies reinvesting in ourselves or in aspects of life which we care about and enjoy, such as volunteering, spending time with beloved friends, or taking on a new challenge, like running a race for the first time. Finding the right ritual or tradition is a very personal process which will be unique for each person. Allow yourself to change your mind or to shift a plan if it does not feel right to you.

Try to make time for self-care on this day and as it approaches. You are welcome to post here. Sending positive thoughts to all.

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