There is no getting around it. Missing your mom on Mother’s Day is really hard. I lost my mom six years ago and on Mother’s Day every TV commercial and social media post can feel like a punch right to the gut. I wish it were different, and maybe someday it will be, but for now, Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a celebration to me.
So what can you do when the second Sunday in May feels like something you just have to get through? One thing that helps me is to remember that I am not alone, even though it may feel that way. There are a lot of people in the world who have lost a parent and they are struggling too. As the Clinical Director at Experience Camps, a nonprofit helping kids who have lost a parent, I have worked with kids across the country who are missing their mom. Here are a few lessons we share with our ‘campers’ to help:
- It’s okay to not be okay. Losing your mom is a life changing experience and the grief associated with that kind of loss is hard to live with. When we deeply love, we also deeply grieve. The waves of grief you are experiencing are normal and a part of the grieving process. If you are having a hard day, that’s okay. If it feels a bit harder on this specific day, that’s okay too. Having some compassion for yourself helps.
- Find ways to sprinkle gratitude throughout your day. Gratitude can be really helpful in giving us a new perspective and reminding us what’s most important. Remembering positive memories, traits you share with your mom, experiences you had together, and gratitude for people who have supported you through your loss are all ways to do this. Another is writing a gratitude list focused on the now: ‘I am grateful for my health, home, the song I heard on the radio that made me get up and dance, the smell of coffee in the morning as I ease into the day.’ If you can sprinkle moments of gratitude into the difficult days, they might not feel as difficult.
- Do something personal to celebrate your mom. Did your mom like the beach? What was her favorite dessert? Maybe Mother’s Day can be about acknowledging the sadness of losing your mom and also a day to honor your mother in a different way than others might be celebrating today. Maybe that looks like making her favorite dessert or watching her favorite movie. However you honor your mom today, it’s okay to acknowledge that your feelings are different and difficult on this day that others may spend in celebration.
- Reach out to others who can help. One of the things we know from the kids we work with at Experience Camps is that being around people who “get it” is important to the healing process. Think about others who are hurting this year or who have been supportive to you in the past and reach out to share your feelings and memories of your mom. Creating a support system that allows you to bring up all the mess associated with grief with people you trust and care about helps us to feel less alone.
Molly Giorgio taught previously at the University of Hartford and now leads her own practice in Windsor. She also serves as Clinical Director at Experience Camps for Grieving Children.