With Mother’s Day approaching, it’s a great excuse to celebrate the incredible women in our lives who have helped raise and support us. However, for many of us, Mother’s Day might not be the easiest day to get through, and can bring with it feelings of sadness and loss.
I sat down for a chat with one of our Indigo clinical psychologist’s, April, to understand more about those of us who might be suffering this Mother’s Day, and how we might best support each other.
Why is Mother’s Day hard for some of us?
Mother’s Day can cause us to reflect on our relationship with our mother and/or our child/children. This can be extremely difficult and painful for some people for many reasons. These might be – you’re estranged from your mother or child, your mother is sick and/or dying, your mother is no longer around, you’re a mother who has lost a child or you would like to be a mother but aren’t able to for whatever reason.
It’s rarely just the day that causes difficulty but also the constant reminders leading up to the day, on TV, online and in shops that can be uncomfortable and emotional for people. Regardless of whether this loss is a recent loss or not, this is a challenging day but could be particularly difficult for those for whom this is the first Mother’s Day without their mum and/or child.
If you know someone who might be vulnerable this Mother’s Day, check-in with them leading up to and on the day. Avoiding the elephant in the room can result in people feeling more isolated and alone than they already do.
How do I get through Mother’s Day when I’ve lost my mum?
It’s tough. It might feel like a rollercoaster of a day. You might feel numb. You might feel sad or angry or both.
You may want to distract yourself, particularly if this is your first crack at getting through the Mother’s Day period. Just be gentle with where you are at in your journey. Sometimes we need to block out the world and that is okay.
If you can manage it, a challenging yet often rewarding way to spend the day is honouring your mum.
● Buy her favourite flowers
● Write her a card or a poem
● Cook her favourite meal
● Look through old photos
● Drink her favourite beverage
● Visit her grave/memorial.
Spend time connecting with your mum and feeling and remembering her presence in your life. Although this is painful and emotional, it can also feel deeply nourishing and fulfilling and leads us to feeling more connected with our loved one and the loss of our loved one. It’s from this place that we can sometimes feel stronger in carrying their spirit and legacy forward and integrating them into a more meaningful life.
Remember that you don’t need to do it alone. Connect with loved ones – family and friends who get it. Share memories, share pain, share laughter. Losing a loved one often results in a deeper understanding of the power of connection and helps us to acknowledge and appreciate rich and meaningful relationships with those who matter.
Be gentle with yourself. Prepare for the day and for potentially not being okay. Give yourself space and schedule in extra self-care before, during and after the day.
How do we support people without their mum on Mother’s Day?
Don’t avoid! If you know someone who has lost their mum, just ask how they are going. Ask about their mum. It may be emotional/uncomfortable but generally people are happy you asked. But at the same time, be ready to meet the person where they are; they may not be ready or want to talk. Create space for them to talk and share but equally create space for silence.
Just knowing that someone is there, without expectations, is the best thing anyone can do.
If you are particularly close to someone who has lost their mother, you may like to offer to help organise and/or participate in helping them honour and connect with their mum on Mother’s Day. This may include helping them cook their mum’s favourite meal; visiting their mum’s favourite beach/park; going with them to their mum’s grave/memorial; or simply toasting to their mum over a glass of wine.