Grieving on Mother’s Day

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

This year, more than any year in recent times, more people will experience their first Mother’s Day without their mother’s presence. For others, Mother’s Day symbolizes another year that has passed without their mother. As a result of the pandemic that has been sweeping the globe, many of us, whether our mothers are living or not, will be faced with the task of honoring the important women in our lives from afar. This, too, is grief. It’s important to remember that although we may not be able to spend Mother’s Day in the way we’d like to, there are means to express grief or display our affection from afar. The following is a list of various methods to cope and grieve during this uncertain and frightening time. Some of these methods are more attuned to individuals who have had their mother pass away, while others are meant for those with mothers who cannot be present with their living mothers.

  • Continue your bond. The death or physical absence of your mother, grandmother, or other female figure does not represent the end of your relationship. Just as grief is ongoing, so is your connection. To honor your bond, engage in activities that you previously did together, whether it be cooking, gardening, or singing. Doing so is a powerful means of coping with grief.
  • Reach out to others who know or knew her. Whether it be through Facebook or text message, ask others to tell you their favorite story about or most treasured quality your person possesses.
  • Write her a letter. This may be a letter that you physically drop in the mail box for your living person to receive, or a letter to the deceased who can no longer receive your words.  Writing can be an incredibly cathartic experience.
  • Savor memorabilia that brings up fond memories, such as photos, home movies, or treasured family heirlooms.
  • Make a dedication to her utilizing your various creative talents (write her a song, make a slideshow, a piece of art, etc.) and, should you feel comfortable, post your dedication on your social media account as a way of honoring her.
  • Help a mother in need. Taking appropriate precautions, perhaps you can pick up groceries or a takeout meal for a single mother, or any mother with children home during quarantine. Alternatively, you can order it to their house. Taking on some of this labor is a fantastic way to help a mom in need, thus celebrating your own mother’s life.
  • Emulate the person you’re grieving. Find a way to do something for someone else that your mother used to do for you. Read you a story at bedtime, reach out to your little cousins, nieces, or nephews, or offer your time and attention to children who need a motherly or affectionate presence. When we help others heal, we heal ourselves.

Above all else, remember to be gentle with yourself. There is no “best,” “right,” or “wrong” way to grieve, and with our options limited more than ever, it can be easy to get stuck and beat ourselves up for not being able to demonstrate love in the way that we’d like. The aforementioned methods are modes for self-care and for easing the grieving process, not obligations that must be done perfectly.

Dr. Alana Kingsley is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in Chicago, IL. She works primarily with adolescents, college students, and young adults on managing difficult emotions related to anxiety, depression, and grief. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology. She can be reached at alana@midwestcounseling.com.

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