Mother’s Day is observed by many as a joyful occasion, a time when hardworking mothers have a chance to put their feet up, relax, be treated to breakfast in bed or special lunches and dinners. We might receive gifts lovingly chosen or perhaps handmade by our children and partners. We may put time aside for visiting or talking to our mothers, perhaps making up for time we have spent apart, while busy with our lives.
In the weeks preceding Mother’s Day we are faced with a barrage of Mother’s Day commercials and emails created to tug at our heart strings. However, for many, Mother’s Day can be a painful and difficult day. Women who have lost a child, women experiencing infertility, women who have had miscarriages, men, women and children whose mothers are no longer with us – for these and others, Mother’s Day can be a day of sadness and loss.
Mother’s Day grief can bring up feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, anger, alienation and despair. For many the day becomes about just getting through. For everyone, childless mothers and motherless children, planning a way to remember loved ones is important. While there is no replacement for your mother this Mother’s Day, below are some constructive ways to deal with the day that may help you feel closer to her memory. Remember to be flexible and do what feels right for you at the time.
Have some quiet time to reflect on the good times you’ve shared – You may want to have a quiet day on your own or you may feel it is important to mark the day in a special way. What did you enjoy doing together? Maybe you’d like to visit somewhere special the two of you used to go, look through a photo album, watch a favourite film or go out with friends.
Talk about your favourite memories – Take the opportunity to talk about your mother with family and friends.
Write a letter to your mother and update her on all that’s happened since her death – Writing to deceased loved ones can be therapeutic and help to continue your bond with them.
Remember her with a card, gifts or flowers – If it feels right for you, mark the day with a Mother’s Day card. Write in it what you would like to say to your mother. You may want to put it up at home or take it to the cemetery or crematorium. Likewise you may wish to mark the day with flowers or gifts in memory of your mother.
Have a simple act of memorial – Light a candle, plant a flower in the garden, organise a memorial gathering, visit the grave or final resting place of your mother.
Create new traditions – Light a candle, say a prayer, visit somewhere new or wear a flower.
Do something that would have made your mother smile – Bake one of her favourite recipes, eat cake, dance around the kitchen, do some gardening or read a book. Doing something your mother enjoyed doing is a way for you to bring her into your day. Whatever you do, allow yourself to enjoy it just as your mother would have.
Don’t feel guilty if you have moments of enjoyment – Allow yourself to enjoy moments of respite if they happen and don’t feel bad when they do.
Plan a self-care day – Take a walk. Rest. Listen to your favourite music (music can have a positive impact on both our physical and emotional health, from reducing the perceived intensity of pain to relieving symptoms of depression). Look through old photographs. Watch a film. Have a bubble bath. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure. Phone a friend. Write in a journal.
If you need support ask for it – If you are worried that no one will do anything for you on Mother’s Day, be pro-active and tell your loved ones what you would like to do to observe the day.
Seek professional support – Sometimes it can help to talk to someone apart from family and friends who may also be grieving, you could call CRUSE Bereavement Care (Freephone helpline) 0808 808 1677.
Give yourself permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself!