Mother's Day is supposed to be a happy day…after all, we say ‘Happy Mother's Day', right?
But what if your mom isn't around? Can you really have a happy Mother's Day without your mother?
I lost my mom almost sixteen years ago, and oh how I wish I could tell you that it gets easier. When I stop and really take time to think about everything- her life, her death, all the things I wish I would have done differently- the pain is just as real and intense today as it ever was. The difference is that the longer you handle it, the better you learn to live with it…because, well, we have to.
If your mom has passed on, this day is going to be rough, no doubt. You'll probably find yourself with all kinds of emotions on every end of the spectrum, from sadness and guilt to nostalgia, acceptance and maybe even joy.
And you know what? That's okay!
You're experiencing something that many people can't even imagine yet, and it's tough to feel feelings of extreme sadness and happiness at the same time.
Here are a few tips that I hope can help you have a Happy Mother's Day, even without your precious mama.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Whether she's just passed on recently or years ago, you will have to go through the grieving process at some point (even if you don't want to). Healing comes after grieving, and when you don't take time to allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness, it's like you'll be walking around with an open wound, constantly, day in and day out. How'd you like to do that for years? Some people actually put off grieving thinking their feelings will just ‘go away' and get better on their own. Trust me, they won't.
Allow yourself to go through the entire grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). And then, you know what? You might need to do it again…and again! There's no time limit on grief, and while one person can manage to pull it together after a few months, others take years. And that's okay. You can still live and grieve at the same time. It's rough, but you can do it.
Let Go of the Guilt
This might depend on your situation but usually once someone is gone, we can always find things to feel guilty about. We wish we would have done this, or told them that.
I know with my mom I had tons of guilt, because I didn't do all the things I should have done had I known she was going to die. You hear of people spending their last moments together, doing things on their bucket list- vacations, adventures, and the like- and making sure there's nothing left unsaid.
We didn't do that. Yes, we spent time together, but not actual ‘let's make sure we do this now while we can' time and not ‘let's talk about the hard stuff' time. Even though my mother was sick, I never actually thought she was going to pass away, so I didn't face the reality of our fleeting time together. I live with those regrets every day.
But guilt will eat you alive. For me, I had to get go of the guilt (even though it still creeps in now and again) and tell myself that my mom knew I loved her. I think of all the fun times we did spend together, and even if we never got to do big vacations or many of the things I wish we would have, she enjoyed being with her family and her grandchildren. We had a good relationship and spend many Mother's Days together, and I have to believe that she felt special, appreciated, valued and that her life was important.
Remember the Good Times
Remembering sometimes comes by deliberately thinking about something, and at other times, a situation, event or person will just pop into your head at an unexpected time. However your memories come, let them flow.
Take time to intentionally think about your mom, about her life and your experiences together. Reflect on the positives and all the good times you had together. And no matter where you are, when unexpected memories surface, let them out. Talk about them, think about them, and allow yourself to really feel what's on your mind and in your heart.
Do Something in Remembrance
Doing something in honor and remembrance of your mom can be healing in itself. It can be something as simple as lighting a candle, baking a special cake, or just talking about the good times. You might want to plant a tree or some flowers, or make a donation to your favorite charity in her honor. Whatever you decide to do, do it with love, and know that it would make your mom happy.
Celebrate With Your Children
This one should be easy. If you have children, what better way to celebrate and have a Happy Mother's Day than spending it with them? Even though you're filled with thoughts of your mom, just think…those beautiful kids are thinking the same way about you. If losing my mom has taught me anything, it's to enjoy life and never take for granted a single moment. Being a mom to my four kids is by far the best thing I will ever do in my entire life, I love it and am so blessed to be able to dedicate my life to shaping, caring for and spending time with my children. They make it a whole lot easier to celebrate.
Even though your mom is gone, you can still have a Happy Mother's Day without your mother. It might not be easy, but it is possible. I'm living proof.
Sending prayers and love to mothers everywhere, cherish your time with your children. Oh and mom, have a Happy Mother's Day!
Have a story of your own? I'd love to hear it, connect with me in the comments below.