Your gain: We’ll kick this blog off with a quick open conversation about why and how Mother’s Day can be so difficult, then finish it up with some ideas on how to make the most of Mother’s Day even though we may be dreading it.
Whether this is your very first Mother’s Day without your mother figure or you’re decades in, Mother’s Day is always a stark reminder of our mama’s deafening absence in our lives. Biological mom or not—perhaps it’s another mother figure who helped raise you!—having to endure a day where the sole focus is honoring and spoiling our moms (you know, the ones that are alive) can be excruciating.
For the purposes of today’s post, I’ll continue referring to “mom” to cover as many bases as possible. But please know, all mother figures apply and are acknowledged here!
By the way, if you haven’t “met” my mom yet… allow me to introduce you! This is my mama, Lori Jordan.
She was, well… everything. She was absolutely everything to me. My confidant, my fierce protector, my comic relief, absolutely silly and goofy, a phenomenally beautiful soul inside and out.
She was truly the most unreal mom I could have asked for. She tested me, she encouraged me, she guided me yet enabled me to become the individual I am today. Truly, she just would have done anything for me. I know that. We were bonded in a way I’m still trying to comprehend, and I miss her more than I can put into words in this blog, honestly.
What is Mother’s Day, Really?
After my mom died, Mother’s Day has always been an interesting holiday for me. Father’s Day, too, actually. Why? Because we can really celebrate them any day, right? These are, quite literally, holidays cooked up by whoever actually cooked up these holidays. We don’t HAVE to celebrate them. We don’t HAVE to acknowledge these holidays if it doesn’t spark joy for us at any given time.
I think what’s so hurtful and makes us queasy about these holidays is just the fact that it’s shoved in our faces constantly. The person we don’t have, I mean. The Mother’s Day cards at the store. The marketing emails we all receive or, almost worse yet, seeing mothers and daughters out and about enjoying themselves and wishing more than anything in this world that we had that again, too.
But here’s the thing. When someone we love dies, a mother figure especially, I feel like there’s this shift in a lot of us. One where we realize that we miss her all the time. Our sorrow and our pain without her aren’t saved for some special day once a year, right? It can hit us anytime, any day. We know that. But if that’s the case, why do we put all of this pressure on this ONE day?
A Moment for the Moms Who Have Lost A Child
While so much of my journey is the loss of my mom, I would absolutely be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the beautiful mamas out there who have lost a child. My heart breaks for anyone who has lost a mother figure, but my gosh… to be a mother losing a child when, in so many ways, that probably feels like it goes against nature, right? I simply can’t imagine it.
This idea that it’s not natural for a child to die before the mom, in a way. I know that’s what my grandmother said about losing her daughter, my mom. My incredible Aunt Gail, who married into my dad’s side. She had a son, Tommy John, from a previous marriage that was an unbelievable light in this world. They just don’t make them like that anymore, as we’d say. A brother I never had who died in a tragic car accident when he was 20 and I was around 10 or 11. How she managed to endure 20+ years without him now will always allude me.
Perhaps that’s how you feel, too. It kind of defies logic and feels even less right than losing our moms (as if that’s not bad enough)—because we sort of know going into it our mom will go before us, ya know? I mean, they’re older. That’s how it goes. Does this feel relatable?
Simply put—I see you today. I see every person reading this who has lost a mother figure, and/or is a mother who lost her sweet child. These are bonds that surpass any understanding of time and space we have, and that deserves to be recognized.
What’s With the Mother’s Day Pressure?
There are a lot of reasons Mother’s Day can be especially brutal, even though we know we never really stop missing her. We don’t need a day in the year to do that. Or, to celebrate and remember her. That’s kind of an everyday thing for a lot of us.
To play devil’s advocate as to why it might hurt so badly, there could be a few reasons. The two listed below are typically the ones that are most prevalent for grievers.
It’s On Display
As I mentioned earlier, simply put, other people’s relationships with their very alive mothers are on display more than usual. And hey… that hurts. I absolutely get it. It’s almost impossible to ignore. Even if you stay inside all day and boycott the grocery store or the local park so you don’t have to see the joyful, smiling faces of the moms and their kids (I mean, good for them but a dagger for us).
We stay inside, but then have social media to deal with. Post after post, story after story of a cute brunch, a fun day out together, maybe even matching outfits—I’m looking at mamas who have lost their babies here, too! My mom always used to dress us in matching Laura Ashley outfits, for example. Not being able to do things like this, too? That can be so hard to see over and over.
The Memories Are Ever-Present
We all celebrated Mother’s Day with our mamas in our own ways when they were here. Whether it was a sweet breakfast-in-bed situation (fun fact, my mom was never a fan of that), taking her to coffee, going to a park or garden, to the beach, the mountains, perhaps a fun shopping day, or doing absolutely nothing! Maybe you just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company. Watched a movie while enjoying some laughs.
Which, by the way, I think is one of the most beautiful things ever. Busy and jam-packed isn’t always better or even needed. And I would venture to say, if we’ve lost our mom… what we wouldn’t give to just be with them, right? To sit on the couch and talk, hold her hands, and just soak it all in.
Anyway, those memories we hold so close to our heard play over and over in our minds, too. We mourn what we’ve lost and relish in those memories, but also mourn not being able to create new ones.
How to Approach Mother’s Day and What To Do
To be perfectly blunt, do exactly what you want to do that day and not a damn thing more. Seriously. Like any holiday, like ANY day—make it work for you and do what feels right in your heart.
I want to reiterate what I said earlier: any day can be a day to celebrate our moms. I want to remind you that Mother’s Day and any other significant holiday could, in theory, be treated as any other day. Now, is that always easy? No. Is that my absolute recommendation for how to handle these holidays? Also, no. I’m just saying… think about it.
Where there might be situations where it’s not just Mother’s Day piling on, but other traumatizing events around that day. Perhaps there’s also a death-aversary around that date. A birthday (both of my parent’s birthdays are the same week as Mother’s Day, that’s a fun one). Maybe they were in the hospital leading up to that time and it just sparks a lot of negative memories for you. Listen… the list could go on.
How to Celebrate Mother’s Day
Whatever feels organic and comforting to you, dig into that. If you need some inspiration, I’ve included some of my top recommendations on how to honor the moms out there. Feel free to take or leave these! Perhaps they’re just a jumping-off point.
- Go to a breakfast, lunch or dinner in her honor and share stories about her with family, friends, or loved ones. Perhaps her favorite restaurant, a favorite cuisine, or simply a place you all enjoy! Remember: you’re the one here, alive, and living now. We don’t have to get too hung up on the specifics.
- Buy yourself flowers—either her favorite kind or yours—and proudly display them in an area of the house where you can see them and (hopefully) smile.
- Do a craft project, puzzle, play a game, or something fun with your hands. I love this option because, depending on the craft you do, it could be something that you create to honor your mom (or child, if you’ve lost one). Perhaps a scrapbook or photo album! Whatever you choose, doing something with your hands is also a great distraction, quite honestly. It Shifts your mind onto a project that’s a healthy thing to do, and gets the creative juices flowing, too!
- Light a candle or put some special token of memorial out around the house that help keeps her presence and memory a little more prevalent (more than usual!) that day.
- Spend a day with friends or family doing an activity she enjoyed, or one that you all enjoy doing that sparks joy for you. Remember, similar to the first suggestion, you can make this something that makes you feel good. Don’t push an activity on yourself that she enjoyed just because she loved it. Not if it won’t make you feel better! If it’s your first one without her or something she loved to do is just too tender for you, be kind to your heart. I have no doubt your sweet mom wouldn’t want you making yourself miserable, either. There’ll be plenty of time for doing things she enjoyed, it doesn’t have to happen this year.
- Lastly, I love to go on Etsy and poke around at some fun things to pick up that remind us of our loved ones. There’s such an amazing variety of shops with countless little treasures you can customize to honor her, and I love that it’s helping to support other people or small businesses, too.
Do What Feels Right
Remember, however you honor her doesn’t have to cost a thing, either! Sometimes, it’s simply a beautiful practice to close your eyes, perhaps meditate a little, and see what energy comes in and around you. It’s feeling your emotions fully, and it’s perfectly okay to sit in the fact that she’s not here, and that’s saddening!
Her absence can be extremely painful and deafening. Not only on Mother’s Day, but really any day, right? This can be a painful reality, but leaning into our emotions (even though this can hurt) is one of the healthiest ways we can cope with this.
If giving a nod to Mother’s Day doesn’t feel right, don’t feel the need to put that pressure on yourself! As I was alluding to at the beginning of this post, if moving through this day without a lot of acknowledgment is what speaks to you, give yourself permission to do that. Know that this is okay, and maybe even communicate that to those around you if you’re comfortable.
What’s the most important thing here is honoring that relationship with your mom. Or, if you’re a mama who’s mourning a child, recognize that incredibly beautiful bond however you see fit. However you memorialize her that day, please know she is beaming, loving on you so hard, and with you every second.
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