Happy Mother’s Day! This weekend, we will read this greeting in emails, texts and greeting cards. It’s been a dispiriting year of COVID-19 precautions, physical distancing and loss, but with vaccinations on the rise, many families are planning long-awaited reunions. For those who have lost a mom, stepmom, grandmother or mother-like figure, this celebration may bring heightened feelings of sadness, loneliness, and grief.
This is normal. In the words of grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt, our grief reflects “how our loved ones are determined not to be forgotten.” Here are six tips about how to embrace your feelings this Mother’s Day.
1. Plan ahead. Make a plan for how you will spend your day—especially if this is your first Mother’s Day without your loved one. Will you spend it with anyone? Also, plan at least one act of self-care, such as walking, journaling, reading or doing yoga. You also can listen to music. Meditate. Garden. All these activities can help you reduce stress and deepen your connection to yourself.
2. Honor your own grieving process. Mother’s Day is a traditional family day, and some families may gather to share Mom stories or memories. However, depending on your individual need, you may choose to observe or begin the holiday with some quiet time at Mom’s gravesite or favorite location. Alternatively, you may want to participate in or support a cause that really mattered to your mother. Choose whatever is meaningful and helpful to you.
3. Celebrate your mother’s legacy. What did you treasure most about your mother? Her stories? Her sense of humor? Her work ethic? Her wise words? Whatever it was, this is a good time to remember and celebrate your mom’s legacy and how her traits and talents live on through you.
4. Connect with Mom. This year, you won’t be buying the traditional Mother’s Day card for your mom, but you still may find it comforting to write her a card or letter. You may miss her physical presence, but now you can forge a different sort of connection. Express your appreciation and love aloud. Plan and do an activity that you used to enjoy together.
5. Make peace with your mother’s memory. If you had less than the ideal mother-child connection, Mother’s Day may evoke some conflicted emotions. In addition to your bereavement, you may be grieving for the relationship that you wish you had or never had. Honor your own feelings, your own story and your own grieving process. Use some self-care strategies or activities to help you make peace with your mother’s memory.
6. Enlist a friend or relative for support. If you anticipate that Mother’s Day will be a tough day for you, reach out and ask for help. Ideally, your support person should be someone who will allow you to express your thoughts and feelings, someone who listens without judgment.
Grief has no timetable. Despite our best plans and supports, some of us experience “a grief spasm” or “grief ambush” that can feel overwhelming, even physically. Allow those moments to happen and know they happen because we have loved and have been loved.
Learn about Care Dimensions grief support and resources available to residents of Eastern Massachusetts.
About the author
Roxane Weddle, LMHC, is a bereavement counselor with Care Dimensions.