Celebrating Mother’s Day…. Without a Mom

Is Mother’s Day a day that you dread either because your mother isn’t here, or because you feel as though you don’t have a true mother? Do you find that you withdraw from your friends and family members who are excited to share this special day with their mom? You are not alone. It can be tough to get through Mother’s Day weekend, as it can often be a reminder of a relationship that you don’t have, or one that you long for. Perhaps your mother passed away, is physically or emotionally distant, ill, or maybe you never even had a relationship with your mother. You may even withdraw and refuse to celebrate this day with your own children. If this day is distressing for you, you have probably asked yourself how you can get through it without becoming depressed and withdrawing completely. Here are some tips on how to make the most of this day.

  1. Allow yourself time to heal and process your emotions that you are experiencing. This is a difficult time for you. Acknowledge your feelings, and accept that this is a difficult time for you. Perhaps you are grieving the loss of your mom, or grieving the loss of never having a mom. Understand that there is no textbook time frame or way to express grief, anger, lack of understanding, or sadness over the loss of or absence a person. You are unique, and have to be true to your feelings. Because everyone grieves differently, you should find a way that works best for you to process your feelings of grief or longing…. Maybe you need time alone, or you want to surround yourself with friends or family members.
  2. Carve out time to process feelings of grief, sadness, or being distraught. You should allot yourself time to do this. While this sounds similar to recommendation number 1, it is different because I am suggesting that you give yourself a timeframe to really process these feelings. For example, you can carve out a 2-hour time frame to grief the loss of your mother each day of the mother’s day weekend, and after that time frame is up; you can put forth all of your energy on spending time with your family. The time frame allows you the space to acknowledge and deal with your feelings, but also does not allow you to dwell on them for unlimited amount of time. This may not work for everyone, and often requires practice to adhere to the boundary of the time limit.
  3. Start to prepare yourself for mother’s day before the day is here. You can start making a plan to occupy your time or your weekend a month or so before the day hits. It is often easier to deal with a hardship if you make a plan for yourself ahead of time. Maybe you can take a weekend getaway, plan to go to a brunch with friends, or spend the day watching movies, etc.
  4. Find a surrogate mother. It is always easier to deal with loss or feelings of emptiness if you have a surrogate mother or family which can help to fill the void. When you select a surrogate, it is better to select someone who is nurturing and can fill the role of a mother-like figure for you.
  5. Show gratitude for who/what you do have. Holidays can often draw attention to what we don’t have, what we are lacking, and what we want. Rather, it is a time you should reflect on how many wonderful things that you do have in your life. What helps you get through the other cloudy days? Perhaps you have a wonderful dog, spouse, or supportive peers that you work with. I encourage you to think about the good things/people in your life, and perhaps to even reach out to them for support during your trying time.
  6. Find alternative means of emotional support during the Mother’s Day weekend. Reach out to family, friends, your therapist, or a loved one on this day. Preplanning will be essential, because you want to ensure that your support system will be there for you ahead of time.
  7. For ongoing emotional support to help you cope, talk to your therapist. Your therapist can also help you cope with old or hidden wounds, and be an ongoing non-judgmental support system.

Dealing with loss is always difficult, however it can be done. You can work on healing yourself and your wounds. While your experiences are painful, take a step back and ask yourself what have you learned from them. That way you can better prepare yourself for how to deal with it at a later time. Feel free to contact me to see how I can support you through this Mother’s Day.

© Natalie Jones, LPCC, PsyD. | Clinical Psychologist