For some, Mother’s Day represents the celebration of the joy and happiness found in a mother's love. It's a time to celebrate the woman who's given you life, love, and nurturing through the years, and to celebrate you if you’re also a mom.
But what happens when that joy turns to pain and sorrow after a loss? What if you're dealing with Mother's Day grief?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Tips for Dealing With Mother’s Day Grief After the Loss of Your Mother or Grandmother
- Tips for Dealing With Mother’s Day Grief After the Loss of Your Child
You may have experienced the loss of your mother or grandmother, or maybe you’re a mother who lost her child. While some may be off celebrating, your Mother’s Day may take on a new meaning, filled with pain, grief, and sorrow that you may never have imagined possible.
Tips for Dealing With Mother’s Day Grief After the Loss of Your Mother or Grandmother
Mother's Day grief is only one of the many types of grief that can affect those who’ve lost a loved one. This can be a painful reminder each year of your loss and the absence created by their death. But just as love never dies, the bond of a mother can last forever.
After the death of your mother or grandmother, you may not feel like celebrating Mother’s Day at all, even if you’re a mother yourself. It’s normal to lose hope on special days such as these, especially when you’re entrenched in your grief.
The anticipation of the day sometimes lends itself to be much more than you can handle, so you retreat into your grief and hope that the day will pass by unnoticed. What happens when you don’t feel like celebrating, and every Mother’s Day reminds you of your loss?
Here are some tips for dealing with Mother’s Day grief after losing your mother or grandmother:
1. Share stories
Some of the best memories come from sharing stories of the past. If you’re a mom, you can plan on spending Mother’s Day with your children, if possible, celebrating the meaning behind the occasion.
Share stories about your mother or grandmother to keep their memory alive. Each year, work on giving a little more detail about their life as you remember it. Your children can learn about your mother or grandmother through the visions you create in their minds through the stories that you tell. Ask them to take part by sharing what they remember of their grandmother or great-grandmother.
The beauty is in honoring the lives of your mother or grandmother, the storytelling, and the togetherness with family on this day.
2. Buy some flowers
Every day is a special occasion worthy of a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. Flowers that you can arrange yourself or some that are already pre-arranged will add a touch of celebration to this day. Allow the beauty of the flowers to adorn your home and fill your heart with joy.
Flowers tend to bring joy and happiness and help commemorate this special day.
3. Cook a special meal
Invite your children or family over for a special meal that you’ve prepared in honor of your mother or grandmother.
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the special women in your life that have guided and supported you in good times and in bad. In the end, it’s good to remember that food can nourish the body and feed the soul.
4. Visit the graveside
The first Mother’s Day without your mom will be a tough one for you to get through. Tougher still will be the second after you’ve processed your loss and have had time to miss them.
It may be heart-wrenching for you to make that initial trip, but it’ll get easier each time you go. After a while, you’ll find yourself visiting more often and going there for a chat whenever you need that extra support only a mother can give. If you haven’t been able to go back and visit the graveside since the funeral, consider this an occasion to do so.
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5. Have a conversation
Have a conversation with your mother or grandmother whenever you need some advice. If it makes you feel more comfortable, go for a walk by yourself so that you can have some privacy and some one-on-one time with them.
It’s normal to miss your mother or grandmother after they’ve died, but if you experience a yearning for so long that it consumes your every thought, know that it may be time to consider online therapy or grief counseling.
You may need to have these conversations with a professional who’s trained at helping you get through your grief. It doesn’t take a special trip anywhere to talk to your mother or grandmother.
Read our full guide on things to do in memory of Mom to wish her a "Happy Mother's Day in Heaven, Mom."
Tips for Dealing With Mother’s Day Grief After the Loss of Your Child
Grieving the loss of your child on Mother’s Day can make this special day bittersweet. On the one hand, you celebrate the joy that your child brought into your life in making you a mother. On the other, you grieve over their death and the void that they’ve left behind.
It may feel more complicated on this day especially if you’re the mother to other living children who want to celebrate you on this day. Mother’s Day for a grieving mother can be like feeling opposite emotions such as joy and happiness for their children who are living while grieving over their child who has died.
You may never truly get over the grief of having lost a child. You can expect this day to be hard on you for the rest of your life, but it doesn’t have to mean the presence of deep sorrow and unrelenting pain for the rest of your life.
6. Accept that your grief will last forever
Losing a child means that you’ll never be the same. You have been changed into this different person. And although there’s no easy word to describe your new title as a mother who has lost a child, the pain and sorrow you feel will serve as a constant reminder of your loss. No title needed.
The grief of losing a child is like a spiral of emotions and a feeling of emptiness that will never go away. Time will lessen the pain to a certain degree, but it will never take it away completely despite what the books on grief might say. It is important to accept that this is your new reality and that your grief will last forever. But even with this acceptance comes a renewed hope that the pain of your loss will lessen a little bit more.
7. Allow your grief to take shape
Allow yourself to feel however you feel on Mother’s Day and every other day. You won’t know how you’ll feel on Mother’s Day the first year following the death of your child. Let the experience happen, and see where it takes you by allowing your grief to take shape.
You don’t owe anyone any apologies for your grief and for not knowing what grief reactions to expect on this day. The best that you can do to prepare is to learn about what to anticipate from other mothers who have lost a child. Recognize that grief is a part of your experience and that it comes in many different forms.
8. Talk about your deceased child
One of the things that mothers who’ve lost a child wish for is that you talk about their deceased child without fear. Talking about your child who’s died will not make you feel any worse, nor will it remind you of their death. You won’t need any reminders of your loss.
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with or about your child. Encourage others to remember your child through the telling of stories about their personal experiences with them or of how they remember them.
When you’re missing your child more than usual, visit their favorite hangouts and talk to them as if they were there with you. On Mother’s Day, thank your child for blessing your life with their presence, and tell them how much you miss them. Talking about your child will lessen the pain of having lost them.
9. You don’t have to have it all figured out
Mother’s day can leave you struggling to figure out whether you’re still a mom after your only child has died. If you have other children, you may be struggling with the answer to how many children do you now have.
The questions below are normal for you to wonder about after the loss of a child:
- Do you still have a child?
- Are you still a mom?
- Do you have to tell people about your loss?
- What about facing your other children on Mother’s Day when you don’t feel like celebrating?
Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to have everything figured out.
10. Try not to get overwhelmed
Anticipating Mother’s Day may be worse than the day itself. You might have wrapped yourself up in anxiety about how you’ll feel or what others will say or not say on this day. Try not to worry so much about those things and let the experience of the day take shape.
Instead, focus on the things to do in memory of your child to give special meaning to this day in a way that makes sense for you. Find new ways of celebrating Mother’s Day that are meaningful to you.
Facing Mother’s Day After Loss
Though you may feel alone in your grief, know that you are never alone on Mother’s Day. The memories of your loved ones will be with you for the rest of your life, and the bonds that were formed when they were alive will never be broken in death.