Mother’s Day is not always a good cause for celebration.
For those who have lost their mother or mother figure, it can be a dark event. While it can get easier over time, grieving is not linear. Some days are going to be harder than others, some years better than not.
If you are struggling with grief this Mother’s Day, know that you are not alone in your experience. But the day doesn’t have to be a total waste (unless, of course, that’s what you need to heal). There are ways to participate in the vacation while still caring for yourself if you’ve lost your mom or a maternal loved one. We asked our Facebook communities to share their experiences, and here are some suggestions from people who have been there:
1. Practice self-care no matter what that means to you.
“On Mother’s Day, I focus on personal care. I congratulate myself on having done such a good job raising myself and I recognize my limits. I stay off Facebook, don’t go to restaurants, and I don’t go overboard with alcohol. I let myself feel this pain in a healthy way. I’m going to watch ‘Gilmore Girls’ or ‘Reba’ and cook the mushrooms in the soy sauce and dip the green onions in the salt. I love to be alone and remember the love we shared. I give myself permission to feel what I feel. – Emily green
2. Donate what you would spend on a gift to charity.
“I donate the money I would have spent on her Mother’s Day gift. I do the same for his birthday and Christmas … [Ever since she died]I found a place to donate the money that would make her honored – a women’s shelter, or a children’s charity, or even a parent I know who is struggling right now. It made that first year without her a little less bad, and now it’s just a habit. – Geneva Feingold
3. Take advantage of the day to reflect on his best qualities.
“My mother was 40 when I was born. She was a woman very motivated by her career in the 90s. She was the director of nursing in a nursing home. She returned to work very soon after I was born – two weeks, to be exact. I use Mother’s Day to remember how strong and career motivated my mom was. I carry it with me every day and at age 24 I graduated from college and I’m moving up the corporate ladder into management. – Kimberly shurtleff
4. Do an activity that she has always enjoyed.
“It’s been seven years since I lost my mother. Instead of being sad that she’s gone, I honor her memory by doing things that she loved to do. My mom is buried in Germany and I can’t visit her grave, but I always buy her favorite flowers and cook her favorite food. – Jenn hutchings
5. Take a break from social media.
“I never go on social media for a few days around this date because it hurts to see all the posts. I know it’s selfish, but honestly I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this. – Prince of Lorraine
6. Spend the day away from the house.
“I spend the day with my daughters and we do things we all love to do – eat and go to the movies! And she is there with us. – Rebecca billingslea
7. Prepare a meal that she liked.
“I lost my aunt in 2009. I don’t think I will ever be able to accept not having her physically here, but the only thing that comforts me is the cooking. Especially by cooking the dishes that she would make, and if I do them correctly with her touch, that is enough to make me smile. – Steph Chavarria
8. Spend time with other family members.
“My mother passed away in 2013, but I am fortunate to have two wonderful older sisters and a great father. On Mother’s Day, we are always together. This year my sisters and I are doing a spa day. – LM Fitz
9. Share her heritage with others who did not know her.
“I try to honor her by sharing stories about her with my child and I write down our memories.” – Janet Dommasch
10. Surround yourself with other strong women (and men!).
“I surround myself with women who would be great mother figures. My dad is moving in too and I’m celebrating him! Instead of a mother, I have 10 wives who have filled this role. “- Karoline Rose
11. Watch videos or listen to old recordings.
“Sometimes I replay the few voicemail messages I have from her to remember what her voice sounded like. I try to remember that she is always with me in my heart and that on Mother’s Day I have to be strong for my son so he can celebrate with me. – Melissa Mulvaney
12. Take all the space you need.
“I have two young daughters and a wonderful husband who want to make the day of me. Luckily he understands what I need this weekend is space and avoiding vacations. Not everyone agrees with how I feel. And my friends regularly try to change their minds and their minds. But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. There is nothing wrong with being selfish. If you need solitude then OK. – Rachel Deagle