Every day can trigger memories of Mum after she has passed, but there are often two days that can be more painful than any other – her birthday and Mother’s Day.
While her birthday is a personal affair that intimate friends and family will commemorate with you, Mother’s Day celebrations are everywhere and seem impossible to avoid.
Grieving for the loss of your mother on Mother’s Day
From television and catalogue advertising to emails, social media and in-store posters, it can seem that everyone is talking about giving Mum the best gift to say “thank you”. And yes, there was a time when you’d be planning a lunch or gift to celebrate with Mum or maybe even barely blink an eye at the mention of Mother’s Day. But now, when your mother is no longer here, all the hype and conversation around Mother’s Day can be like a stab to the heart. It can feel like everyone else is celebrating with champagne and gifts at a party while you’re there in the back quietly mourning your Mum’s funeral.
If this is your first Mother’s Day without your Mum, then I encourage you to read this article to help you navigate what can be an incredibly difficult milestone.
When you’ve survived the first birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day and anniversary following the loss of your Mum, while you think it’s not possible, these major calendar days can actually get a little easier. Much of the pain felt on the first milestone can actually be the anxiety leading up to the day – not knowing what to do, say or feel. These are often the worst, but in the following years, you might feel:
- a sense of calm or peace
- happiness for the good memories
- a sense that “you’ve got this”
- a quiet grief
- that your mother would be proud of you
- that you’ve already been through the worst day
Give yourself permission to feel anything, just stay away from guilt
It’s possible you’ll feel guilty that you don’t feel the same as you did the first Mother’s Day. Even if that pain has subsided a little, the thing is, no matter what you’re feeling – anger, sadness, anxiety, hurt – you’re allowed to feel just that. So give yourself permission to feel these without the guilt.
As both a professional grief counsellor and someone who has experienced losing my own mother, my advice to cope with Mother’s Day after the loss of your Mum, is to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and to express yourself, whether with friends or family or just writing in a diary or Mother’s Day card.
Guilt can stay with a person long after grief and anxiety, so this is the first emotion I urge you to dispel. Whether it’s guilt over something that happened when Mum was alive or guilt over how you feel now, guilt can put blinders on the rest of our lives. It’s hard to smile at that holiday you took when you were a child, or the quirky little habits she had when you’re consumed by feelings of guilt.
Express your feelings in writing or in person
A problem shared is a problem halved. Bottling feelings up isn’t conducive to a healthy mind or physical wellness, so in the lead up to Mother’s Day, try and express yourself however is best for you.
Some people prefer to write, while others need to talk to a counsellor or close friends and family, but either way, this form of communication will help you take the weight off your chest.
Have a think about what it is you need at this time. If you need to talk about memories of your mother and cry, then lean on a sibling, close friend or counsellor so that you can have the safe space to talk, cry and heal. If you need to do something to commemorate Mum privately, think of a tradition you shared that you can replicate, or do something she enjoyed to connect you with her. If it’s too much for you to feel, it’s also okay to keep busy and try not think too much about the day – it is after all, just a day. Remember, you can think about your Mum any day of the year, and no one can tell you what’s right or wrong.
Grief is natural. Grief is normal. Grief is yours.