Grieving on Mother's Day? This Day Was Actually Started For You


Written By: Georgia Mae H.


Think about someone who has lost their mom or a child. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your neighbor, your high school friend or cashier at the grocery store. Odds are, we are all connected to someone who has experienced the loss of a mother or a child — proving two things: those that are grieving are truly not “alone” in this journey and those that are supporting have an opportunity to better support someone through loss.

So, what the heck do we do on a day that highlights the loss in our lives? To start, I want you to know that Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in the early 1900s after she lost her mother. She wanted to honor the sacrifices her mother had made for her and Mother’s Day was born. It’s interesting that Mother’s Day originated from a grieving daughter, and yet, those that have experienced the loss feel like they can’t participate on the holiday. Here are a few ideas:

1.) Stay off of social media

If this is a trigger for you, take some time away on that day. You know that people love their moms, and there is a possibility this might make your loss feel even greater on that day. But, we all know that it doesn’t take a national holiday to make us “remember” — if anything, it makes us want to forget.

2.) Write a letter to your mother or child

Just because they aren’t with us physically, doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate them through our words. This can remind us about the life we shared with them rather than the emphasis on their death.

3.) Tell people what you need on this day/ask those what they need

For grievers, these holidays can be daunting. You’re not sure how YOU even want to show up for yourself, much less what you want from others. If you want a low key day, you could let your close loved ones know or even ask them to join. They will feel relieved that you are communicating what kind of support you’d like. For those of you looking to support someone facing a loss on this day, reach out before or on that day to acknowledge it. Here are some ideas:

  • I am thinking about you today. I know you carry this everyday, and I don’t always know what to say so please let me know how I can best support you during these holidays.

  • I know this day highlights loss, so I’d love to hear about what you’ve been thinking about today. What are some of the happy memories you turn to when thinking about your mom/child?

  • I’d love to learn more about your mom/child. Would you want to tell me about them sometime?

4.) Do something your mom/child loved to do

Is there a restaurant they loved? A specific meal they cooked at home? Treat yourself to a day doing whatever feels right. Are you really tired and you’d rather watch a movie with take out? You can make this day comfortable and gentle for yourself.

5.) Do what YOU want to do

Saving the best for last. As most of the grief journey goes, we are often told how we should be feeling. What if you wake up on Mother’s Day and you feel happy?  What if you feel distraught, tired, frustrated, foggy? That’s all OKAY. The expectation and pressure to honor them can be exhausting — especially on a big holiday. What if we just want to sit back and let it pass? There will be other Mother’s Days, and there will be other days to do whatever it is you feel like you cannot rise to the occasion to do this year. I’m pretty sure honoring ourselves is something our lost loved ones would have been on board with, too.

This sounds cliche, but I hope it comes off as genuine: We all have something to celebrate on this day — the motherless and childless just as much as anyone else.

This leads me to one of my FAVORITE quotes if all time:

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" -Winnie the Pooh

He hit the nail on the head. Goodbyes are hard. They’re hard because we love someone so deeply and we don’t want to see them go. Somewhere along the way we become so consumed (rightly so) with the goodbye that we forget about the love. The love we can still relish in and celebrate. Grief means that we had great love in our lives, and if we feel grief that only means that the love is still here too. Grief and love can coexist. I hope you feel loved this Mother’s Day and remember that it all started with someone grieving, just like you.

Mother’s Day 2014 - Georgia Mae, her mother and siblings.

Mother’s Day 2014 - Georgia Mae, her mother and siblings.

P.S. How will you be spending Mother’s Day? I’ll be buying fresh tulips (my mom’s favorite flower), enjoying my time with my dogs and thinking about all of the amazing examples of motherhood in my life. Maybe I’ll change my mind once that morning rolls around, and I’ll just take it moment by moment.