Mother’s Day has all kinds of mixed emotions. If we have had good connections to our mothers or our mother figures, it can be a day of celebrating, honor, and gratitude. If our mothers or mother figures are deceased, or the relationship is estranged, the day can create grief and sadness. And if you have lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a day of depravity. Many people are in more than one of these situations, which creates a multitude of emotions. But in my experience, as a mother who has lost a child, and mental health professional, I have found some things to helpful in my grief journey that I’d like to share:
You are allowed to carry more than one emotion.
We are complicated human beings, and you can live in the duality of more than one emotion at once. You can be grateful for other children that are living with you and be sad that your other child didn’t get that privilege. You can hold both. Instead of judging your emotions, you can observe them with kindness and compassion and know that the emotion is not permanent.
Give your grief a voice.
Bereaved Mother’s Day is the Sunday before Mother’s Day every year. (May 7th this year) If you have experienced child loss, find a community where your voice can be heard. There are online forums and events to honor those that have lost a child. By honoring your grief and spending time with others that understand, you are memorializing your child and giving yourself space to feel what you need.
Try to eliminate the “shoulds.”
You get decide what you need around Mother’s Day. If you need to be alone and have tea on your patio, then so be it. If you want to have a picnic or attend a large gathering, allow yourself to celebrate with a bang. Create an environment that is nurturing and compassionate, however that looks. Many people will tell you what you “should” do but attempt to create space and intention so that you can decide what you need. There is no timeline. You should not be further than you are in your grief. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are.
This is a difficult month for many people, so I would like to remind you to take care of your physical bodies. Hydrate, attempt to rest, try to move your body, and intentionally build habits that lends itself to healing. Slow down when things are difficult and give yourself some radical compassion. May will come and go, and so will the emotions with it. Whatever you are feeling at this time, know that it won’t feel this way forever.
Written by Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC
Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC is owner of the Center for Hope & Healing in St Charles, Missouri. Kristen has years of experience counseling in hospice, end of life issues, traumatic loss, and other mental health matters. She also contributes as a specialist in grief and trauma as a group facilitator, writer, speaker and educator in her community and across the country.