As this Mother’s Day approaches I sit here writing with some big, wild emotions. Torn between which one to share and make my focus. I’m a therapist, so addressing big emotions is what I do. But I’ll confess, perhaps not surprisingly, that there are moments in my own journey that are incredibly challenging. More so than others. There are significant losses of people I know and love that are weighing heavily on me in this moment. So it’s here that I share an expression of that in anticipation of this Mother’s Day. And importantly, to honour those who find themselves in this grief struggle again, or perhaps for the first time ever in their lives.
Emotions I’ve experienced spontaneously over the past weeks include deep sadness, gratitude, longing, hope, regret and heartache. Whether your grief this Mother’s Day includes grieving the death of your mother or a child; a disconnect or severed relationship with your mother or a child; the loss of an unborn baby; a significant change or transition in your life that has somehow altered relationship with your mother or your children; the absence of a mother’s love; the absence of being a mother in spite of a deep desire for that to be your reality; and experiencing vicarious grief (feeling the grief pain of someone else you know and love deeply). These are only a few examples of what your Mother’s Day Grief may look like this year.
In my world right now I have close family who are years into their journey after losing a mother or a child to untimely or even expected death in one way or another. Other beautiful members of my family are grieving the very sudden loss of a wife and mum who died just today. There are close friends whose loss is so raw and recent, only weeks into their grief journey. Whilst another beautiful family in my world are grieving the imminent loss of a stunning wife and mum whose life has been interrupted by an insidious disease. I know people who are navigating the loss of relationship with their mothers due to circumstances requiring unhealthy, unsafe relationships to be severed.
There are so many who experience pain associated with Mother’s Day. This day can be so deeply painful for those grieving the death or absence of a mother’s love. Or as a mother being unable to shower your love or be loved on because of the death or absence of your children. Mother’s Day grief can bring up a whole lot of emotions like loneliness, rejection, anger, alienation, despair, bitterness, anguish and longing. For so many it is just a day to endure. Hoping they can just make it through.
If you’re struggling with Mother’s Day grief, you are not alone. I want to honour YOU wherever you find yourself this year. I encourage you to take all the time you need to remember the mother figures you love and miss. Then allow yourself to look around, in the ‘now’ and celebrate all the nurturing, wise, wonderful women who remain in your world and are there beside you in one way or another.
I’ve come to realise that gratitude mixed with heartache is the Mother’s Day formula for mothers grieving for a loved one…and for loved one’s grieving for mothers. It is here that I feel the need to mention how important it is to stay away from anything deemed as ‘negative coping’ though. While there is no one particular way to navigate your Mother’s Day Grief, there are certainly many constructive ways to make it through the day.
For some, it may be laying low. Not switching on the TV or exposing yourself to all of the Mother’s Day marketing throughout the stores. You may take the opportunity to do something you’ve been wanting to do for a while, like some gardening or getting out for a walk with the dog, or taking a drive to explore a new space nearby.
If you want to spend time remembering your own mum, you can do that in any number of ways, including the following. Do something that would’ve made your mum smile. Spend time looking through photos or other items/memorabilia from your mum. Spend time in a place that allows you to feel a connection with her, for example, her favourite picnic spot, restaurant, or even her grave-site. Doing an activity she loved to do.
For those wanting to focus more on your loved ones, here are the following suggestions. Focus on your own children. Spend time with other mother-figures in your life whom you love and admire. Make this Mother’s Day special for another ‘mother’ in your life. Send a card to another mother. Or maybe say thanks to your dad or another significant role model in your life.
There are so many constructive ways to navigate Mother’s Day whatever your current stance or preference may be. And last but not least, find someone or something to express gratitude for this Mother’s Day. It will do something significant to your soul to express your gratefulness for the role that someone else has taken in your life, even in the midst of your Mother’s Day Grief.
Thinking of you this Mother’s Day however you may be navigating your story.
With you on this journey!