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Finding Comfort When Mother’s Day Isn’t Happy

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and for some it’s a happy time of celebrating their mom and the sacrifices of love that she has made. Some will be showered with love from their partner and kids. For some, this may be a first Mother’s Day. But for so many others, there is sadness, regret, and loss mixed with happy memories. For so many, this weekend they will want to crawl in a hole and just grieve. This post is for all the mothers who have lost angel babies, whose children have died tragically and way too young. This is for those moms who feel like they’ve failed, whose children have left or been taken away, whose rights have been severed. This is for the moms who are doing a good job but are wracked with guilt because of the enormous pressure to be a perfect mom. This is for the daughters grieving the loss of their mom, their best friend. For the daughters whose moms abandoned them and for those who are grieving the lack of a nurturing, loving parent. This is for all of us who are grieving on this day.

If Mother’s Day isn’t happy for you, or is mixed with sadness, it is OK to grieve. You are not alone, and you can find comfort.

  1. It Is OK to Grieve: We live in a culture that values stories of overcoming great hardship. We like the 60 second viral videos that flash through the pain to celebrating the “happy ending.” But somewhere in the middle the grief, the pain and the hope are forgotten by the wold and it leaves those of us in it feeling very much forgotten. You may feel like you need to press through, push it away, or fake happiness. But it is OK to grieve. It may be that you grieve for a short time or that it feels like it will never end. It may be that you feel alright for a long time and then something triggers it, like a holiday or the birth of a child. There is no timeline for grief. Finding a therapist who can walk with you through it can be incredibly helpful.
  2. You Are Not Alone: Grief can be debilitating when it is coupled with loneliness. There is something so powerful and healing in finding a community of others who can relate intimately with our feelings of loss and regret. Whatever you are grieving, there are others who are feeling the same. Ask your therapist for a recommendation to a support group or online community.
  3. You Can Find Comfort: If Mother’s Day is tough this year, find ways to give yourself permission to grieve and permission to find comfort.
    1. Write a letter to your mother or your child. This is a letter just for you. You don’t have to send it to anyone.
    2. Write a letter to yourself. If you lost a child or your mom, what would they write to you? If your child was taken from you, write a letter offering forgiveness for yourself. If you are wracked with “mom guilt,” acknowledge what you are doing well.
    3. Reach out to and honor the person in your life who was that nurturing mother figure. Was it a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, or a therapist? Send them a card or if that isn’t possible, write a letter for yourself acknowledging the impact they had on your life.
    4. Create positive memories. What rituals can you create for yourself this weekend? Rituals can have a powerful impact on memories and emotions. What is something you enjoy doing? Maybe it’s a pampering experience, maybe lunch with a friend, or maybe just a few hours to yourself.

However you choose to spend this day, I hope you give yourself grace and compassion and that you find a community that offers the same.

Hannah Lindsay, MSW, LCSW, offers individual therapy and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office. Reach out to Hannah via email at [email protected], or call her at 703-951-6409 to set up a first appointment or complimentary telephone consultation.