If you are in the motherless daughters club, this time of year is hard. Every store you enter has prominent displays of Mother’s Day cards and flowers. Every advertisement and coupon code landing in your inbox is a Mother’s Day special. If your mom has passed away, these are huge grief triggers that feel impossible to escape. Here are the best ways to survive Mother's Day if your mom has passed on.
Take Control of the Day, Don’t Let the Day Control You
If you’ve lost your mom, it can be incredibly tempting to ignore this holiday all together. However, this is almost impossible given the amount of marketing done for Mother’s Day. Every store display, email, or mother-daughter pair you see walking down the street serves as a reminder that your mom isn’t here with you. The effort to ignore these grief triggers is exhausting and is likely to leave you emotionally overwhelmed before Mother’s Day even arrives.
Instead of ignoring that Mother’s Day is right around the corner, take control of the day by planning how you will take care of yourself and how you will honor your mom without her being physically present. This means planning out your day to intentionally incorporate self-care and time to remember Mom.
Determine What You Need on Mother’s Day
Let's start by accepting that this day will be an emotional one and is likely to be harder to get through than the day before or the day after. Knowing your grief will peak on this day is like planning ahead for a sick day. Ask yourself what you need to care for yourself when you are heartsick. It may be things very similar to when you’re physically sick since grief has a very physical effect. Some things you may need on this day include:
Extra Rest or Time to Sleep in
Time for Exercise or Other Physical Treatments like Massage
Something that Brings you Joy and/or Distraction (Hello, Netflix binge!)
Connection with Your Support System
Dedicated Time to Acknowledge Your Grief and Remember Your Mom
Find a Way to Honor Your Mom
The most important thing you can do for yourself on Mother’s Day is to still celebrate it, but in a new way that honors your mom and the connection that remains with her, even after death. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, so there is no right or wrong way to remember your mom on Mother’s Day.
If you are struggling with ideas, start by considering what you would have done on Mother’s Day before your mom’s death and then adapt that activity. For example, if your normal method of celebration was taking mom out to dinner, cooking her favorite meal at home and putting a place setting at the dinner table and inviting family to share stories about her.
Another way to identify an activity that allows you to feel close to your mom on Mother's Day is to consider the things you did together that were special. Is there a clothing store you both frequented together? Take yourself on a shopping spree. Did you take weekly walks through the park? Go for that walk.
Still struggling for ideas? Consider taking time out of your day to do one or more of the following:
Make a Donation to a Charity in Her Name
Take Time to Do Something You Often Did Together
Write Your Mom a Letter
Visit her Resting Place and Light a Candle
Do Something Positive for Yourself that Mom Would Want for You
Communicate With Your Support System
Now that you’ve thought about what you need and what you’d like to do to remember your mom this Mother’s Day, it is time to bring others into your plan. The best way to be successful in taking control of the day is to let significant others know what you have planned and what you need from them to support you through Mother’s Day.
Whether it is the first Mother’s Day without your mom or the tenth, it can be scary to admit that you are grieving. It is ok to remind others that grief is not something that ever goes away completely, it ebbs and flows. On holidays or anniversaries, it is normal for grief to come back in a strong wave.
Starting this conversation can be difficult. Here are some ideas or phrases that may get you started:
I’ve noticed myself feeling a lot more emotional as Mother’s Day is coming up. To manage my grief and remember my mom, I’ve planned ___ and I need ___.
I know you wanted to do ___ for Mother’s Day, but I’ve been missing my own Mom a lot more recently so I need to make time for ___.
Would you have any time on Mother’s Day to get together or have a phone call? Since my mom is no longer here, I could use a friend to get me through the day.
Practice Self Compassion
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself is practice self-compassion. Self-compassion means being patient with yourself and enhancing self-care. In other words . . . allow yourself to feel what you feel. Allow yourself to grieve in whatever way feels most appropriate to you.
On this day, we as motherless daughters are reminded of the hole left behind by our mother’s death. But, this can also be a day in which we choose to focus on and recognize all the wonderful things they left behind.
Allow this Mother’s Day to be the day you identify and practice all of those things that make you feel connected to your Mom, who continues to live on through you. A mother’s love never ends, it just takes a different form.
Ask for Help if You Need It
If you are struggling with the loss of your mom or need support handling Mother's Day (or another grief anniversary), schedule a free consultation or teletherapy session at Her Time Therapy, LLC by calling or texting (720) 255-1667.
About the Author
Meagan Clark, MA LPC NCC BC-TMH is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Founder and Clinical Director of Her Time Therapy, LLC, a group therapy practice specializing in teletherapy for women. Meagan opened the practice four years after losing her mom to cancer, which became a turning point in her life and career trajectory. Meagan received her Master of Arts degree in School and Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adams State University and is a Board Certified Telemental Health Provider and Nationally Certified Counselor. As a women's therapist, Meagan specializes in working with female-identifying teens and adults who suffer from trauma, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and grief. She is also a Certified Holistic Cancer coach and specializes in supporting cancer patients and caregivers. Meagan believes strongly in the empowering nature of integrative and feminist therapy to give women the knowledge and tools they need to navigate gender-based oppression, increase resiliency, and empower themselves to create a life they love.
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