I lost my mom a week before Mother’s Day eight years ago. What used to be a happy holiday celebrating family and spring weather has lost some of its magic. I’m not a mother. I no longer have a mother. And no matter how many years go by, blooming flowers and aisles of Mother’s Day cards will always be bittersweet to me.
Anniversaries and holidays – particularly Mother’s Day – can be hard when you’ve lost a parent or child. Here are some tips on how to cope:
- Anticipate your emotions and know that it’s completely normal to have feelings that resurface around these times.
- Accept your feelings, experience them. Emotions that we try to push aside have a way of popping up unexpectedly and taken out in ways we don’t intend.
- Use these times as an opportunity to talk about your loved one and celebrate their memory that continues to live through you.
- Seek support if you need it. Though it can feel like we’re a burden, your friends and family will most likely be relieved that you are reaching out to talk.
At what point does grief become a more serious concern?
Though sadness is normal and there is no timeline for grief, it should not take over your ability to function. If you’re having trouble eating, sleeping, getting out of bed or enjoying people and routines you did previously, it may be time to consider seeing a therapist or getting treatment from a medical expert.
What can friends and family do to help?
Creating a sense of normality and understanding is the best thing you give to someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. The Jewish faith has a tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. Not only is it okay to remember, but you’re encouraged to do so. Lighting that candle gives me some peace and reminds me that my resurfacing feelings are normal and accepted.
If you have a friend or family member who has lost someone, consider creating traditions on the difficult anniversaries and holidays – like Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s leaving flowers at the grave or cooking their mom’s favorite meal. Maybe you can help them start a tradition of getting their family together every year. Even little things, like an annual phone call showing you remembered, make a huge difference.
One of the most important things to remember is to never make someone feel like they should be “over” the death of someone they love. You never completely get over the loss of a loved one and it’s important to respect their lingering feelings.
Photo Credit: Gisela Giardino