How to Survive a Mother’s Day Without a Mom

For me, Mother’s Day is the time for me to take off my metaphorical Band-Aid and let my wound breathe. I allow my heart to bleed and ache for my mom. The tears that burn my eyes every morning come free flowing and abundant. My survival instinct gets shut off and I stop fighting the urges to feel my grief. This is one of the few times out of the year to fully process my pain. When the time feels right, a new Band-Aid is reapplied and life continues on. I’ve found multiple ways to adapt to the changed meaning of this holiday without chucking rocks at families eating brunch together or tearing down Mother’s Day card shelves at CVS. They’re not always easy, but they help.

  • Sit in the shower and cry. It’s a private moment for yourself yet you can be completely exposed. There’s something cathartic about getting out all your tears and knowing that they’re being washed away. The steady stream of water is also convenient for loud sobs and wailing.
  • Punch a pillow. Multiple times. Kick it across the room if you want. Allow your grief some visceral power. It’s ok to be angry. Anger is often a much more digestible emotion than sadness. Taking some of that anger out in physical expression can be satisfying. Just don’t hit anything breakable or living. You will regret having to clean up pieces of a broken mug off your floor.
  • Play your mom’s favorite song and just let yourself feel everything that comes with it. Some occasions I’ll play Bruno Mars’ “Count on me” and just sit in a puddle of my own misery. Other times it makes me smile and I remember her singing it off key in the driver’s seat of our van. Today it was a combination of both; I smiled through my tears and played it until my Spotify crapped out.
  • Look at old photos and memories from the past. I’ll take out my notebook filled with letters my mom wrote and pictures of the two of us together. I’ll read the entry written the first day after my mom died and listen to the recordings from her funeral. I used to be scared of reentering that past pain, but it’s a reminder of the places I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Seeing my mom’s fading handwriting and her lovingly written x’s and o’s gives me some solace and in a world where her physical hugs and kisses no longer exist.
  • Call a friend. Go to said friend’s apartment. Cry in friend’s bed for an hour and let them sit with you in that pain. The hardest thing I’ve had to learn is how to open up to people and be less alone in my grief. I am so blessed to have a multitude of people who would spend their day sitting with me and simply being present in my time of need. It takes a very brave person to be with someone like that and know it isn’t their job to fix you.
  • Go for a run, watch an entire season of Netflix, eat questionable candy you found in your purse, purchase something stupid like a neon green stuffed llama. If it gives you any form of comfort, allow yourself that comfort. Spending a lifetime processing grief is all about small victories and small comforts.
  • Be kind to yourself. Whether it’s been two months, two years, or two decades, you are entirely deserving of a day to acknowledge your loss and how it has impacted you. Let your emotions come in whatever form they may; ride them out to their fullest extent and see where they take you. Don’t punish yourself for feeling “weak.” A human capacity for grief is not weakness; it’s strength.
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