This year I decided to stay home alone for Mother’s Day. After all, my mom died, and Mother’s Day is a reminder of that. Before my partner left home to visit his mom to celebrate her day, we went to a beauty supply store. Prior to arriving, I had hoped to spend the day playing in some of my makeup to lift a mood I was forcefully trying to keep at a happy place. However, along the way, every ad on the radio station sung out sweet songs and praises for mothers everywhere. And there I was once again, holding back screams and tears that threatened to escape from the core of my body.
Everyone can’t share Mother’s Day with their mom because not everybody’s mom is alive. Somehow, America has forgotten to consider this most basic thought in the planning of its beloved culture. As a result, those who no longer have their moms with them must adjust to a busload of triggers.
Here are some points to consider regarding those people whose mothers are no longer with them:
Mother’s Day is an innocent holiday, but it can be triggering for those who have lost their moms.
I’m sure these gestures are innocent and unintended to hurt people like me. Those who must live faced with the realization that we’ll never see our mothers again in the physical world. And while I understand the meaningfulness of this day intended for one of the most important people anyone could know, those like me are often ignored and not taken into consideration. Frequent ads, app notifications, and teddy bears hugging engraved hearts with the words “I love you, mom” can be triggering.
Those who have lost their moms recognize these anxiety-inducing triggers. For me, just knowing May is around the corner is enough to send me into shelter-in-place mode. Not all who have lost a mom cope in this way. I often can’t predict how I will cope with a trigger one moment to the next. However, I feel that we live in a world that pushes the image of the nuclear family structure for most advertisements, and this can isolate those whose family structures aren’t complete (in the typical, American sense).
Mother’s Day isn’t an invitation to try and replace the thought of someone’s mom.
Friends can text us- the physically motherless people of the world- that they’re thinking of us on this day. Partners can invite us out with them to celebrate their moms, instead. Our mother figures can call us up to check in on us. We can go see our grandmothers and share the day with them, if they’re still alive. And all of these things are beautiful, show that people care, and show that someone is thinking of us.
But they aren’t remedies for the loss we feel. They never can be. You can only do so much to cheer someone up about the loss of their mom. Most people aim to cheer up those who have lost a mom by giving that person something to do. And it may help, but only to an extent. Also, keep in mind that being around someone else’s family that has a mom can also be triggering because this experience can only be a memory moving forward in the mind of the person dealing with the loss.
Mother’s Day can amplify the feeling of not belonging for the person who has lost their mom.
No matter what anyone may believe, as a person there is an innate feeling of belonging associated with knowing your mom or parent is still physically with you. When a parent is gone, one can feel like they have been dropped from an airplane without a parachute. It’s something one may need to experience to fully understand.
Mother’s Day may be a holiday people who have lost their moms no longer want to celebrate.
Don’t clutch your pearls about this one, but it’s true. Think about it from the perspective of someone that is not a mother who has also lost their mother, like me. Why would I need to celebrate mother’s day on a personal level? I have no grandmothers alive, my mom is dead, as well, and I am not a mother myself. I’m still fine with sending my sisters and friends who are mothers mother’s day gifts, but I don’t personally need to immerse myself into the tradition because I can’t relate to it at the moment. Perhaps when I have my own children, I will be more willing to celebrate the day again. But for now, I send best wishes to all mothers everywhere without involvement in the traditional activities surrounding the day. So here are some things you can do on Mother’s Day.
You can give those who have lost their mothers space.
Don’t ever get mad at the person for deciding they don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day with you. Instead, give them their space. Do this especially if you’ve offered kind words or an invitation of some sort, and they declined to take it. That person can’t predict if they’ll be wanting to go out with you to spend the day with your mom or if they want to get in the bed, eat pizza, and binge-watch Behind Her Eyes on Netflix.
You can have empathy for those who have lost their mothers.
The empathy you show those who have lost their mothers is so appreciated. Keep being there for that person, because it definitely matters. Sometimes people who have lost their mothers can seem distant or not grateful when someone checks in on them, but this shouldn’t be taken personally. Most likely the person is grateful, but distant because they are trying their best to navigate this world without their parent.
One final word about Mother’s Day.
Living without a mother (or any parent for that matter) is super hard. It can make you feel like a walking freak-show because after a while, all you can do is smile when someone speaks about an experience you know you could never have with your mom moving forward. Those who have lost their mothers when they were young spend their days trying to hold onto the slightest memory of their moms. They beat themselves up because they can’t remember their moms’ faces that much anymore after a while unless they look at her photo. When people tell them, they laugh like her or look like her, they think- I’m not sure if that’s how she sounded anymore. And this is tough.
Remember to keep this all in mind the next time you’re doing your last minute Mother’s Day shopping. Next year hopefully your mom will still be here to receive your red roses and milk chocolate. And you’ll decide to hug her tightly while remembering this post.
Just for fun:
Here’s how I celebrated Mother’s Day alone this year!