A motherless Mother’s Day
10 tips to surviving the day
It would be a cosmic understatement to say that Mother’s Day is not a widely celebrated day. Just look around. From store displays, social media outlets, the flood of television commercials, print ads, to cleverly crafted radio and tv programming, there is no escaping it. While many will look to celebrate their mothers in grand fashion, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Mother’s Day can be particularly difficult for those like myself who are motherless. Whether this is your first Mother’s Day or your 10th Mother’s Day without your mom know that you are not alone.
Mother’s Day falls in the month of May which also happens to be mental health awareness month, so in that spirit, I offer you 10 tips to surviving a motherless Mother’s Day:
1. Plan ahead
I heard a motivational speaker say, ‘fight fear with a plan’. You may be dreading, not just the day, but the entire weekend, so try to plan ahead. Decide ahead of time what you will do on that weekend/day well before your emotions are at a peak. Decide if you are going to stay home, go out, attend Mother’s Day celebrations or opt out, be with family or not etc.
This is very important especially if you are also a mother. Your children/spouse may want to celebrate you even in your own grief for your mother. Talk with your family. Although tempting, don’t shut them out. If you have young children, they may not understand why mommy is sad. If you feel up to it, talk to them using language they can understand about why mommy is sad. Providing them language can help them learn to express sadness. If they want to celebrate you, decide ahead of time how best to navigate this.
2. Reach out
Surround yourself with those that love you, including your four-legged loved ones. Reach out to friends and family of your choosing. Make an appointment with your therapist if you have one and consider talking with a therapist or other mental health professional if you don’t. Isolation can create varying levels of stress and can be detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being. If physical support is not readily available, journal, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
3. Let your circle know what you need
Communication is key. Don’t expect those closest to you to simply know what you need. They will only know if you tell them. Let them help you, allow them to be supportive and loving. Be honest, after all these are those closest to you, your circle, your tribe, they will understand without judgment, they love you and that’s just who they are, so tell them. If you’ll need someone to check in on you, let them know that. If you’ll need some food, let them know ahead of time. If you need company, let your circle know. It’s good to talk about this ahead of time so that a plan is in place before you are wrought with emotions.
4. Take care of yourself
Exercise self-compassion, be kind to yourself. Your mom would want you to take care of your health and well-being. She would want you to enjoy life. It may be tempting to be overtaken by grief and attempt to numb it with food, or substances. DON’T! Get out, get some exercise, take a walk, eat a healthy meal. Prepare a meal ahead of time so you don’t succumb to the urge to not eat because you didn’t feel like cooking. Remove all the obstacles. Communicate ahead of time so you don’t fall into an unhealthy slump.
5. Find a way to celebrate her
What are your favorite things about your mom? What things did she like to do? Did she like plants? Grow some in her honor. Did she like to cook? Pull out some of her recipes and make a few of her favorite dishes (even though it may never taste like hers). Make a donation in her name to her favorite charity. Does she have an amazing story? Share it! Mirror the best qualities she taught you.
6. CRY, it’s OK
I like to say that tears are a cleansing for the soul. So, if you feel like crying go ahead and cry. Crying releases endorphins that makes us feel better. There are expected things that will make you think of her and you will cry. There are unexpected things, places, smells etc., that will make you think of her and you will cry. If that happens embrace it, have self-compassion and be kind to you. It’s okay to cry.
7. Don’t worry about coming up with anything big
It’s tempting to look at how others celebrate their mothers and feel the need to have or do something grand. You don’t. Do Mother’s Day the way you want to. Whether you choose to start a new tradition, modify an old one or do nothing at all. Big or small whatever you decide to do, do it your way.
8. Consider taking a break from social media
If you are having difficulty managing your emotions and implementing healthy coping strategies, then consider taking a break from social media. These platforms may exacerbate your feelings. Whether it’s a Facebook timeline memory or well wishes of others. Social media will surely be flooded with Mother’s Day celebratory sentiments, well wishes and photos which you may find triggering. If this is unhealthy for you, go ghost from the Friday before until Monday. It’s okay invest in protecting your emotions. If this is not an issue for you, celebrate her on social media. Share your favorite videos, photos and memories.
9. Acknowledge where you are
Losing a loved one is like an amputation…acknowledge where you are and YES it’s ok to feel sad. If this motherless status is entirely foreign and too fresh for you to do anything, acknowledge that. Your grief is unique, take your time. Don’t judge your emotions just feel, feel everything, for some of you these feelings will include everything from celebration, sadness, pride, grief, happiness, guilt, shame, gratitude, anger, doubt, to just plain exhaustion and emptiness. No matter the emotion, there is room for it all, it is important that you allow yourself to just be. If your relationship with your mother was complicated and isn’t one you wish to celebrate, acknowledge that too, you can’t heal what you won’t acknowledge. Don’t be afraid to embrace the truth of what you feel. A therapist can help you with this. Seek whatever help, hope and healing you may need.
10. Celebrate you!
Be gentle with you and kind to yourself. If you are a mom, celebrate you. It’s OK not to be sad while celebrating you. Celebrate the person you have become, not just in her absence, but because of it. Allow others to celebrate you as well. If you are not a mother that’s fine too. Do something to honor and celebrate YOU after all regardless of your relationship with your mother I want to remind you that YOU are one of the BEST things SHE ever did!! And that’s worth celebrating not just on Mother’s Day but EVERYDAY.
I honor you and celebrate you and your bravery to feel, heal and hope. It is my wish that something from this list is helpful to you on your journey to mental and emotional wellness.
Yours in Wellness and Peace