How is it possible that someone can both love and hate the same day? As a bereavement counsellor, I listen to mourners describe the love that they experienced for years in relation to universal holidays such as Mothers Day and then after the death of their beloved mother or wife, how they dread the day, particularly as it approaches. These reactions are very much related to meaning – what meaning you attach to the holiday or event will have a direct impact on what reactions Mother’s Day will have on you. With that in mind, here are some practical suggestions to help you navigate your way through Mother’s Day this year:
- Remember everyone grieves differently – so while Mother’s Day may be rather difficult for you, it can be rather comforting to other family members who choose to honour the deceased on that day.
- Acknowledge your feelings out loud – grief shared can be grief diminished. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one. If others are uncomfortable, then find friends who can listen.
- Change it up – Just because you made a certain meal, or engaged in a specific tradition, doesn’t mean you must continue that tradition. Do what feels right. I call this creating “New Normals”
- Identify ways to honour of the deceased – This suggestion combines creating new traditions with specific ways that you feel will help honour your loved one – whether it’s lighting a candle, making a donation or volunteering at a favourite charity. Engaging in these activities can make a huge difference of how you feel and serve as an excellent role model for those around you.
- Practice self care – In an effort to take care of others, we forget how important it is to take care of ourselves. Remember to do something for yourself; just like on an airplane in an emergency, you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help others.
- If you need help, ask for it! It has been said, ‘No man is an island”, nor is any griever. It’s OK not to be OK, and it’s equally OK to seek support from family, friends or a health care professional.
Every holiday has its challenges; mother’s day is no exception. While you may inevitably look around the room and see that your loved one is missing, please also take a moment to also look around and take stock of who you still have.
Sorry for your loss,
Corrie Sirota M.S.W., P.S.W.
Grief, Loss and Bereavement Specialist – Counseling & Psychotherapy
Author of “Someone Died…Now What? A Personal and Professional Perspective on Coping With Grief and Loss” available on Amazon