Another reason to celebrate for most. For people who are grieving, it can be another reason to feel the absence of our person. Mother’s Day can be incredibly hard for people. Some of us grieve our mothers and some of us grieve our children. The pain will be magnified by a million on this day.

It is the oddest thing, because unless you have lost someone, it doesn’t occur to people that significant days can be painful. Some of us grieve because our mother has died and some because we have lost our child. Each one of these losses will present their own set of longings and other painful emotions.

Here are some ideas to help you get through the day. Actually, it is leading up to the day that can be hardest for some, so let’s say to help you get through the first part of May.

Be kind to yourself. Often it is the struggle that will complicate an intense grief response. Our inner critic tells us that we should be stronger, or somehow over it, that we shouldn’t feel sad, or long for our person. This is ridiculous. We will always grieve the people we love. Feeling these emotions – allowing yourself to feel these emotions without judgement will help you to move through them. Tell your inner critic to take this day off and be kind, allow yourself to feel.

Plan ahead.  If we take steps to take care of ourselves and make a plan. Even if the plan is to stay in bed – we can feel more in control. You get to decide how you want to get through this day. Some people create a ritual of celebration; some create a ritual of sadness. It’s all okay.

Try not to avoid painful feelings. It takes more energy to resist something than to let it be. It is like pushing away water. It will just keep coming back. Let yourself grieve, let the tears flow if you need to. Crying is healthy; it moves the grief out of you.

Make plans to care for yourself that day, whatever that looks like for you. Perhaps it is a walk with a friend, or a special spa treatment. Perhaps it is watching Netflix all day and staying in bed. You will know what to do. I once said to a woman, sometimes self-care is doing the dishes, sometimes it is leaving them. Let yourself do what feels right.

Is there a ritual you can create to honor your person? My friend takes her grandkids to the gravesite every Mother’s Day to honor her daughter and to remember. How can you honor your person and remember. My niece always has dessert on Mother’s Day. Her mom, (my sister) always said, eat dessert first. Perhaps it is buying a hanging flower basket, for some this is a symbol of their person, or it could be going for ice cream.

A ritual requires a container, an intention and an action. For my friend, the container is the gravesite, the intention is to remember her daughter and the action is to tell stories of remembrance. Hanging the basket – remembering the person and then all summer whenever you look at the basket, there will be a moment devoted to grieving. My niece sits at the table with her kids and they eat dessert and she talks about her mom. Sometimes, if she feels like it, she will do it alone and reflect.

The first couple of weeks of May are tough. Please be gentle with yourself.

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs