Colleen M. Doumeng
Mother's Day Grief
As Mother’s Day is approaching I wanted to share some information and tips I have learned around grief and Mother’s Day.
Many of us are not happy about Mother’s Day. Some of us are missing our mother because she died. Some of us have complicated relationships with our mothers. Some of us have no relationship with our mothers. Some of us are grieving the loss of never having a child. We grieve for people we love. We grieve for people we liked. We grieve for people who have treated us badly.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day can feel overwhelmingly sad. It’s not like Mother’s Day is the only day we miss our mother. David Kessler says, “its like an electric current running all around us that we are no longer connected to because this person who meant so much to us is no longer here. Our mother is our first relationship – and it is primal nurture energy.”
Here are a few tips I have learned:
Let the day be the day. Some of us decide that it will be a happy day or a sad day – we attempt to pre-plan our feelings - but the experts in grief say, “let the day be the day.” If you want to do something (like go somewhere) and then your feelings changed, be willing and ready to let those plans go. Cancel without guilt.
Perhaps you get invited somewhere and you are not feeling up to it. Here’s a great tip: “no” is a complete sentence and you don’t need to explain – try this – “No thank you.”
Maybe you want to connect with your mother in some way. You two liked a movie, or a place where you felt connection. Think about doing that – go to that place, watch that movie and hold that experience as if you are seeing it and experiencing it through your mother’s eyes.
Maybe you are a mom missing a mom and your kids want to celebrate you as their mom. The invitation here is to tend to your own grief first. Take some time before you are celebrated by the kids and connect with your mom. Maybe in the shower, or as you sit in meditation, while you are journaling, sipping your coffee/tea. Make time for your grief – begin a dialogue and talk to your mom - send her gratitude and love.
Maybe you are hoping someone will call or invite you out. Maybe you need something. Ever hear this one – there is such a thing as “direct ask.” “Hoping” doesn’t get much done but asking for what you need does. Ask someone, “would you be willing to call me, check in on me on Mother’s Day?” Ask for what you need. And yes, sometimes we have to tell people what we need – even our well-intended family and close friends.
Lastly, and I assume you know this but it bears mentioning - it’s “ok” to skip Mother’s Day – you get to choose – if you want to make it just another day and stay in bed or order pizza in, that is more than ok.
I still do not know the exact number of years it has been since my mother has transitioned – it is a date I have blocked from my memory. But I do know this – there are still many moments when I find myself grieving and not just on Mother’s Day. We had a very unique relationship and not necessarily an easy one but it was ours. She was my first relationship. I am grateful for my mom. I love her more and more with each passing day. I feel her presence within me and all around me. And, I remind myself that there is no timeline in grief.
May peace be with you.
(That beauty next to me is my mom celebrating the marriage of my daughter, Catherine to Steve. She managed to get well enough and leave the hospital because she refused to miss this wedding. She returned to the hospital within days. The other beautiful mom, Victoria, is my sister-in-law, a deeply missed soul on Mother's Day and everyday by sooooo many. On the left is my mom's oldest sister, Mary Margaret. Sending you love Aunt Mary!