Johnathan Thomas, MBA, PhD, D.DIV
A day to celebrate motherhood and to show appreciation for mothers and mother figures. According to Hallmark commercials and department store ads, it’s a day for celebration, good food, and smiles all around.
But what if, for you, it isn’t? What if your mother (or motherly figure) has died and you no longer have her in your life? What if you are still learning how to live in a world without mom?
I imagine this day is difficult for many people for lots of different reasons. Perhaps they want to be mothers themselves and are not, or their relationship with their mother was full of conflict, distant or even abusive. Maybe the relationship was an incredibly close one, and the loss of it is unbearable.
How do you navigate Mother’s Day – a day that highlights her absence?
Here are some suggestions to help you get through this day in a healthy and meaningful way:
- Think of other women in your life who have nurtured you in important ways – a teacher, mentor, aunt, friend. Reach out to them and thank them for being there for you.
- Engage in an activity that connects you with your mother in a positive way. Was your mother a good cook? Make a favorite dish. Did she love to garden? Buy yourself or someone else some flowers. Did she have a charity or cause she supported? Volunteer or make a donation in her memory.
- Look at pictures and video. Remember the good times, even if doing so brings tears. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you may feel – anger, sadness, regret, gratitude, relief.
- Give yourself permission to avoid triggers – such as staying home from church (where mothers will be recognized) or steering clear of greeting card sections.
- Do something fun! See a movie, take a walk, treat yourself to a massage, read a book.
- Be with other women who’ve experienced a similar loss. Just being understood by another can be very healing.
Remember to be kind to yourself today. Regardless of what kind of mother she was or wasn’t, this woman played a role in shaping who you are today. Perhaps that is reason enough to remember her on Mother’s Day.