Losing a loved one is always an incredibly painful experience. It’s not uncommon that even months or years after a loved one has died that you periodically experience grief as though it happened only last week.
Often, anniversaries and holidays, like Mother’s Day, are some of the most difficult times for those who have lost someone.
It’s a very tangible reminder that time continues to pass even as that person isn’t there. With Mother’s Day approaching, there are sure to be social media posts, store advertisements, and school activities all reminding you that this year, you will be celebrating Mother’s Day without your mom.
Celebrating a day expressly about the person you lost can be painful, but it can also be an opportunity to celebrate all of the things you loved and miss about your mother. It is easy to get lost in just making it from one day to the next.
Mother’s Day can be a true opportunity to spend time remembering your mom, sharing what you loved about her, and celebrating her life.
There are many ways to honor someone, and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be big, especially if the idea of planning something or seeing a group of people feels overwhelming. It is perfectly ok to choose not to be around others or go places where you might be triggered by questions or topics of conversation. Sometimes, particularly in the first few years following a loss, it is too emotionally painful to engage in social activities where others might ask well-intentioned questions or share their own feelings.
If you feel it would be best to do this day alone, you can do something as simple as writing your mom a letter.
Many people say one of the biggest things they miss about their mom is being able to talk to her about what is going on in their lives. If writing isn’t your thing, you can even just tell her out loud about all the things you wish she was there to hear about.
Many people express the fear of forgetting details or memories. As time passes, it can feel as though the little quirks and mundane memories are harder to recall. Creating a keepsake where you can preserve some of those memories, whether it is a scrapbook, a shadowbox, a video diary, or a shoebox full of mementos can be a way to preserve your memories to be able to look back on as the years pass.
If you feel ready, you can involve the other people in your life who also miss your mom.
Maybe you have siblings, friends, or other family members who are mourning. Spending time talking with others who loved your mom can help you to feel less alone. It may even give you a new perspective on her life as you hear memories from others’ points of view. You can organize a trip she would have loved, sit in your kitchen and talk over coffee, or video chat from afar; there is no wrong way to connect with the people who are sharing in your grief.
Grief and mourning are intensely personal processes.
There is no magical activity or cure that will suddenly wipe away the pain of missing someone. By creating space for yourself not to be ok, but to also acknowledge the huge role your mom played and still continues to play in your life, you may find some relief or a sense of peace.
Written By: Molly Halbrooks, LAMFT