Mother’s Day has come around again. As soon as the last chocolate bilby has hopped off shelves and the last hot cross bun’s been toasted, the shops are full of things for Mother’s Day. Fuzzy slippers, candles, cards, pamper packs and flowers line the prime spots in supermarkets while almost every media outlet is saturated with advertising about Mother’s Day and gift ideas.
For some, Mother’s Day is exciting, some are celebrating being a mother for the first time and others love the opportunity to connect with their family and spend some time together. For others, if they’ve lost their mum, Mother’s Day can be a challenging time. It’s a day that highlights the absence of someone important in their life. For them, Mother’s Day can be excruciating. No one can prepare you for the pain of dealing with losing your mum. The void it can leave in your life. The ongoing grief that you carry with you.
Mother’s Day can be a month of triggers, one minute you’re walking to a cafe to grab lunch and the next you’re flooded with grief after spotting a Mother’s Day gift ideas sign in the window of a local florist. Every ad on tv every Mother’s Day card at the supermarket, reminding you of what you’ve lost. It can be a time of pretending to be ok and ‘fine’, which can be easier than talking about your grief. This makes total sense, many grieving people feel judged, misunderstood and alone in their grief, like they should just get over it. Grief isn’t something to fix or overcome. It’s a natural, normal pain. Loss is a universal experience.
So, at this time of year, what can you do to face the reality of living life as Mother’s Day approaches, when your life has been completely changed by your loss? Some people (understandably) would prefer to pretend that the day doesn’t exist, that’s ok too. You do you, and tend to yourself in a way that feels good for you. There’s no right way to grieve.
I want to share some things you can do if you would like to try to celebrate her life and cherish the memories of this Mother’s Day.
Yes, it will be sad and you’ll miss her, you may also laugh about old memories and reminisce about time you spent together. Joy and sadness, love and grief, humour and pain can all exist at once. All feelings are ok. Grief is ok. It’s a natural extension of love and love can be really hard at times.
If you feel like celebrating her life is something you would like to do there are some things you can try. Keep in mind, It’s ok to want to do these things on your own or to bring along or involve someone to support you. You can be alone if you prefer but you also don’t have to go through it alone either,
There are many ways to celebrate her life, you don’t have to do any one thing in particular, you can remember her in whatever way works best for you. Some ideas include
- Light a candle in her memory
- Watch a movie you use to like watching together
- Cook her favourite meal or a meal you loved to share together
- Visit her favourite place or a place that was on her bucket list
- Plant a tree or flowers in her memory
- Create a scrapbook, photo album or box of keepsakes
- Donate to a charity in her name
- Write her a letter or card
It’s also important to give yourself time and space to grieve. There’s no timeline for grief, and it’s okay if you’re still struggling months or even years after your mum’s passing. Be patient with yourself and take things one day at a time.
If you find that your grief is becoming too much to handle, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many resources available, including grief support groups, and therapy. A professional can help you navigate your emotions and help carry the weight of grief with you. Remember it’s not something to fix or get rid of. It’s okay not to be okay. Embrace your emotions, seek support, and take the time you need to heal. With time, you can learn to live with your grief and honour your mum’s memory in your own way.
How to help a friend or loved one who is grieving the loss of their mum?
If you’re reading this because you’d like to help someone you care about who might be struggling on Mother’s Day, there are some things you can do and some things to avoid. Sometimes trying to help can make it worse. Don’t tell them things like ‘get over it’, ‘put the past behind you’, ‘you were lucky to have her as long as you did’, ‘what would she want for you right now?’ These comments can feel invalidating and insensitive. In her popular essay, Megan Devine highlights the importance of staying present, not trying to fix it and being aware the grief belongs to them( the griever), it’s not your place to share what you would do differently if it were you.
Want to help in a practical way?
Anticipate, don’t ask. People can find it difficult to reach out when they are grieving. You might need to take initiative here, perhaps you can send a card or care package of their favourite things , maybe offer to spend time with them and give them the choice – do they want to vent or talk or would they like a distraction? Maybe they’d like to watch crappy horror movies and eat pizza, give them some options, or just commit to something and show up, I will be there are 3pm Sunday to walk your dog, or I will drop off dinner to your place Sunday and if you don’t want to talk I’ll leave it at the door, don’t just ask ‘What can I do?’’
Mother’s Day can be a tough time for those who have lost their mum. It’s essential to remember that grief doesn’t go away. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s important to accept your emotions and seek support when needed. If you know someone who has lost their mum, be there for them and listen to them.
Book: It’s ok that You’re not ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine