How to Deal with Your Grief on Mother's Day

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How to Deal with Your Mother's Day Grief, If Your Mum Isn't with Us

This time can be really tough

young woman writing on bed
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For those who have experienced the death of their mother, and those who don't have their mums in their lives, the onslaught of vintage Polaroids of big-haired eighties women cradling infants on Instagram come March 31 can be painful.

For freelance journalist Georgina Fuller, 41, the start of spring brings a sinking feeling as the supermarket is bombarded with cards, chocolates and flowers. Fuller’s mother passed away unexpectedly of heart failure while she was still in her twenties – before she became a mother herself.

'It's a bittersweet time as I celebrate being a mum, while also mourning the loss of my own,' Fuller tells WH. 'The cynic in me tries to console myself with the fact that it's just a silly, commercialised day cultivated by retailers to make money and that it doesn't really mean anything – but it doesn't stop the sharp, searing sense of loss.'

Of course, estrangement comes with its own difficult feelings. Hayley Smith, the 30-year-old owner of Boxed Out PR, says that Mother's Day is 'the worst. I literally spend all day indoors and off social media to get away from it.'

After being abandoned by her mother when aged 15 and still at school, Smith has had minimal contact with her.

So, how can you try and make your way through the day, if you don't have your mum in your life?

How to handle Mother's Day, if it's hard for you

1. Talk to someone

As losing a parent is inevitable, the feelings around grief should be something that most people can sympathise with. But, it can be hard. In a recent survey commissioned by palliative and bereavement support charity Sue Ryder, 32% of bereaved respondents said they felt unable to open up about their grief to anyone, despite listing ‘being able to talk freely’ as the action most likely to help in particularly dark times.

'The purpose of mourning is to face the reality of a death. To engage with the psychological pain is an agent of change that forces you to accept the reality,’ psychotherapist and author Julia Samuel told WH. ‘Do that and, over time, you’ll come to terms with the loss before learning to live with it.’

'There should be no shame in talking about it and telling people how you feel,' says Fuller. 'Tell your friends it's a sensitive time for you. I am fortunate, in a way, as my two best friends also lost their mum's in their 20s so we mother each other and always text each other on Mother's Day.'

If you want to be checked in on, when the day arrives? Then let a trusted friend know that.

2. Engage with other people who feel your pain

Even just listening to someone’s experiences via a podcast is beneficial. Samuel explained. ‘One of the worst feelings is the thought that you’re somehow “grieving wrong”. Once you hear other peoples’ stories, you begin to realise that whatever you’re feeling is normal, which can bring hope for the future.’

See if there's something helpful for you on networks such as The Grief Gang and The Grief Network.There are more for you to choose from, here.

3. Feel you can mute people

You should also feel zero guilt if you mute some friends on social media who you know may post snaps that trigger feelings of sadness, comparison or envy in you, on the day. Want to ensure that you don't get swept up in misery-making scrolling? Promise yourself a 24-hour digital detox and get your phone on airplane mode.

4. Sit with your sadness

When it comes to working through your pain, women's health oesteopath, Avni Trivedi, recommends sitting through feelings instead of trying to hold it all together. 'It’s ok to feel your sadness and grief so maybe give yourself space to watch a weepy film, or listen to sad songs and have a good cry', she says.

Trivedi recommends heading to a place you find tranquil, such as your local open green space. 'Somewhere that offers you the space to reflect on your feelings and experience them without overwhelm or overstimulation.'

5. Try a clear out

What can also feel therapeutic is going through a physical act of letting go. 'Have a declutter. It’s such a great activity to clear emotions and you can feel lighter,' advises Trivedi.

There's also the popular recommendation that if you have a relationship with your father, to dedicate Mother’s Day to him — it doesn't matter that there's a Father's Day.'

Ultimately, you deserve to have your feelings heard. If that means letting friends know that you'd appreciate being checked in on, or if it's more about taking a day for some serious self-care, do what's right for you – not what you think anyone else wants or expects.

If you're struggling right now, contact Cruse Bereavement Care’s free national helpline at 0808 808 1677 or helpline@cruse.org.uk.

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