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Mother’s Day After Loss: A Guide to Self Care

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with Mother’s Day. Of course, I call my mom and tell her I love her and that’s always a nice way to recognize the day. But I am also a woman over 40 without children so going out in public, hearing people assume that I am a mother, and wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day is one of my least favorite things in the world. In truth, mother’s day is not about me, nor should it be. No one has to justify to me that I am a “mother in other ways,” or that I am “Piglet’s mommy.”

But this year, there is a different cloud hanging over the day. The woman who was effectively my mother-in-law passed away last October. She and my partner Matt were very close. His father died when he was 7 years old and his mother raised two boys on her own in a very difficult situation. Matt credits her with him becoming the man he is today, and rightfully so. She made mistakes, but who doesn’t?

Because his father died when he was so young, Father’s day has simply never been on Matt’s radar. It’s just a Sunday in June to him. But Mother’s day was always special. He would send his mother a gift and call her to tell her he loved her. And this year, for the first time ever, all of that is gone.

What makes it worse is the constant barrage of everything mom in our culture during this time. Every commercial, every print add, and throughout social media. Its all “mom-this” and “mom-that.” Even a bag of chocolates we bought features “messages from mom” on the inside of every foil wrapper.

He admitted to myself and our friends that this year was particularly hard. And while it will fade a little after the hype is over, this loss will never go away. There are so many things in our lives that he can’t share with her now.

So how can we handle mother’s day when loss is so fresh? There are a lot of resources I found concerning women who have lost children, but what about children who have lost mothers? How do we get through this saccharine sweet hallmark holiday unscathed? Here are just a few suggestions that might help.

  • Take time for self-care. Sunday will be hard, but it’s a great day to do something just for yourself. Definitely avoid the spas on Mother’s Day. Stay in, make tea, and read a book cover to cover.

  • Know it will end. Come Monday, this will all be over for another year. You can breathe again then.

  • Get off social media. It’s never a bad idea to take a short break from Facebook, and Sunday might be the perfect time to skip a day.

  • Honor mom. If it makes sense, take a moment on Mother’s Day to honor your mom. Light a candle and say a prayer if that will bring you comfort.

If you’ve lost your mom, how do you spend Mother’s Day?

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