Coping with Sadness on Mother’s Day

I am writing this post because I was thinking about how Mother’s Day is coming up and how I have never spent Mother’s Day with my mother in over 20 years because she lives far away (Malawi). I see friends on social media post their mothers and so many sweet posts.

 It makes me sad that mine doesn’t live in the same country as me, but I am still grateful that I can still WhatsApp with her, etc. I am also very thankful that I have access to women in my life who play the mother role, and I play a daughter role in their lives.

Then I thought of one of my best friends, who recently lost her mother to Cancer and wonder what she is going through. How hard that must be for her. She always tells me, “there are so many things I wish I could tell my mum,” I tell her just talk to her, tell her how you are feeling, or write It out. I am m sure she is listening. I always like to think those close to us that have passed away are still with us in spirit, and if we talk and mention their name, they will hear us. This comforts me because that’s what I do, but this might not work for everybody. 

Then I thought about friends and clients who have estranged relationships with their mothers, others who don’t have any relationship with their mothers and do not want one, and others who are adopted or in foster care who have never met their biological mothers. 

Mother’s Day can be a day of mixed feelings for many. Also, how hard it must be for the mothers who have lost their child through abortion or unexpectedly and never get to be appreciated by their child on this day.

Dysfunctional relationships

Many women have dysfunctional relationships with their mothers. Many daughters complain about constantly receiving negative feedback or not feeling good enough. I hear other daughters complain about how mothers can be critical and controlling. Some mothers want their daughters to be “perfect,” with perfect bodies, personality etc.

My mother was hard on me over my body for many years, constantly criticizing me for having wide hips until I later learned she had her own issues over body image and projected those feelings onto me.

You also have mothers that can be jealous of their daughters for many reasons, usually things the mother never had or never experienced. A daughter that looks very beautiful, youthful, smart, married to a wealthy man, has a vibrant social life, a beautiful body and sometimes because the daughter has a loving relationship with the father etc.

The one piece of advice I can tell you is it is not you, and do not blame yourself. If you are mentally healthy, have a healthy and loving relationship with yourself, are the best you can be, and are open to working on yourself and having good relationships with others, then that is what you should focus on and let others work on themselves. It is impossible to please everyone, and that is including your mother. You could only offer a peaceful relationship and maintain your boundaries until you feel good enough and safe enough to let them down.

How does one cope with grief or an absent mother on Mother’s Day?

Grief is a complex process, and you may grieve forever. However, you might want to accept grief as part of Mother’s Day.

It is ok to permit yourself to feel emotions. Part of getting through it is acknowledging that grief is a form of love, when someone passes and let it be part of your day and be ok with it.

Feeling sad is ok, natural, acceptable and nothing to feel ashamed about. Accepting emotions during this time brings self-awareness, and you are able to recognize, manage and respond to your emotions in a healthy way.

Most people don’t want to feel pain and sadness, which is totally understandable, but avoiding it means your emotions may take over you, causing you to react out of impulse, burst out in anger or frustration, have a hard time making decisions, and manage your behaviour etc. This can impact how you relate to yourself, others and life in general.

Honor the person

Find ways in which you can remember and honour your mother. Perhaps make her favourite meal that you remember she liked, write her a letter, keep it, create an art piece of them or something about them. Get creative!

Step away from social media

  Social media is fun, but it is sometimes best to step away from it, as everyone else’s Mother’s Day posts may trigger sad/angry feelings and emotions. Perhaps engage in a new activity, create art or a mindfulness activity. However, if it is something you want to share about your mother on social media and it makes you feel better, then go for it.  

Reach out

Your closest friends or a therapist who know your situation will most likely understand that you would want to talk about how you feel during this time, so reach out and talk. Share memories of your mother, and if they aren’t any memories, share how you are feeling.