Dealing with loss is difficult for many people. Methods for working through grief tend to be highly personal, and there is no set schedule for our emotions. Some people process setbacks and tragedies more quickly; others remain impacted for longer periods of time. There is no right way to grieve a loss, nor is there a wrong one.
Special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays tend to be times when losses you’ve experienced are a little closer to the surface. A holiday like Mother’s Day can be very difficult for people who have lost their moms. But it can also be a special time, serving as a reminder and celebration of an impactful life.
This article will explore some ways that people who have lost their mothers have turned Mother’s Day into something that feels meaningful to them. If you’re reading this article because you’ve lost your mom, hopefully, some of these suggestions will feel helpful or valuable. It’s likely that some of them will feel more natural to you than others, and that’s okay.
What were your mother’s favorite things to do in her spare time? Did she have particular hobbies or interests that she was passionate about? Maybe she liked to garden or do crossword puzzles, or take hikes in a particular nature preserve. Sometimes engaging in an activity that was important to a loved one can make us feel closer to them or like we’re appreciating the world from their perspective for a little while. Spending Mother’s Day doing one of your mom’s favorite activities might feel like an appropriate tribute for you.
Along similar lines, you could hold a gathering and cook her favorite meal for Mother’s Day dinner. For many, a home-cooked meal is something they associate with mom, so Mother’s Day might be an ideal time to try your hand at one of her special recipes.
Another way to feel close to your mom on Mother’s Day is to give yourself an opportunity to share your feelings with her. Sometimes the hardest thing about losing a loved one is that you no longer have the opportunity to tell them about the important and not-so-important things going on in your life. Or to ask for their advice or thoughts about a decision you’re facing. But even though you can no longer have a back-and-forth conversation with your mom, that doesn’t mean you can’t share your thoughts.
If it feels comfortable for you, writing your mom a letter to update her on what’s going on with you and your loved ones can be a cathartic exercise. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a letter; you could buy or make her a Mother’s Day card and put a little message in there. Or send her an email. There’s also nothing wrong with taking a private moment to talk aloud to someone who is no longer here. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, it can feel like a relief to let out some of your thoughts and feelings.
Buying flowers for mom on Mother’s Day is obviously a fairly traditional way to show your love and appreciation. And if it’s a tradition that feels meaningful to you, it might feel good to continue doing it. You could certainly buy flowers and take them to your mom’s gravesite — pink carnations and white chrysanthemums are two types of flowers commonly used to symbolize remembrance and grief.
For some people, visiting a loved one’s gravesite is an important activity. For others, going to a cemetery can feel much more difficult. Remember that however you feel is absolutely okay. It might feel more meaningful or possible for you to get a bouquet in honor of your mom and display it in your home near a picture of her.
Holidays are, by definition, special days on the calendar. As such, they represent opportunities to make special gestures to honor the people who are most important in our lives. One suggestion for celebrating your Mother’s Day is to do something unique in your mom’s honor. Perhaps your mom was particularly generous or supportive of a cause or charity; Mother’s Day would be a great day to make a donation in her name.
Alternatively, perhaps your mom had a green thumb, and planting a tree or a flower bush in her honor feels like an appropriate way to remember her. If you haven’t inherited her green thumb and planting something in the yard feels like too much to take on, you could just plant one of her favorite flowers in a pot on your porch or windowsill.
It’s important to feel supported when you’re experiencing grief or loss. Being around other people you love and trust, be they family or friends, can help make Mother’s Day without mom a little bit easier. You could host a brunch or another type of gathering for people who also knew and cared about your mom. Integrating a meaningful activity — like going around the room and having everyone share a story about your mom — can make a gathering like this feel particularly special.
If you don’t have the opportunity to gather with others who knew your mom, or it doesn’t feel possible to hold a gathering in her honor, getting together with people close to you can still be helpful.
Another way to celebrate your mom on Mother’s Day is to do what she was always asking you to do — take care of yourself! Take the day off of work and use the time to do something you find relaxing. Schedule yourself a spa day or make an appointment for a mani-pedi. Set aside time for meditation, yoga, or reading.
It might seem counterintuitive to do something self-focused on a day set aside for honoring moms. But for many people, their mom represents the person who gave them more nurturing and support than anyone else in the world. It’s perfectly reasonable to be seeking out ways to nurture and support yourself on Mother’s Day.
Everyone deals with loss differently, and what you need may or may not have been reflected in the suggestions above. Be kind to yourself on Mother’s Day.