Mother's Day When You Don't Have a Mom

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There are many of us who spend mother's day at cemeteries. Mother's Day is painful for not only those whose moms have passed away but for those who have experienced abuse from their mothers. It is also an especially hard day for women who have experienced the loss of a child. I'm providing a few strategies in today's post but let me add a bit of a disclaimer. I am in no way saying I have all the answers. I'm not a psychologist. These tips may or may not work for you. I just felt the need to give us all a voice since there are more blogs about where to eat for brunch than how to deal with this difficult day. I lost my mom to breast cancer many years ago and I know I am certainly not alone. Here are my tips on how to deal with Mother's Day when you don't have a mom:

  • Honor the good times, memories, qualities of your mom. Maybe you just take an hour to meditate or write these thoughts down in a journal.
  • Know that all feelings are fleeting. You won't feel sad forever. Most of us after crying a bit feel so much lighter and better.
  • Seek support, spend the day with others who also are without moms. Also, check out Motherless Daughters of Los Angeles which has support groups available in the LA area, but does have a blog for the rest of us. Chicagoans can join this meet-up group.
  • Spend time with someone who is like a mom to you whether that's an aunt, friend or a cool woman you really admire.
  • Renew with new moms. If possible enjoy the day with a new mom and baby and feel their love.
  • Be yourself and be okay with how you feel. In our society we feel a lot of pressure to "suck it up and deal". If you can't do that know that by honoring your feelings you are helping to speed the process of your own healing instead of burying those deep feelings.
  • Have an easy "out". It's okay to have a Plan B if it gets too rough, perhaps you make post brunch plans to shop or see a movie.
  • Avoid eating out if its painful to watch others with their mothers having Sunday brunch. Order in some of your favorite yummy food.

For those whose mother wasn't a saint but perhaps was abusive or neglectful I invite you to celebrate the mothering qualities in yourself. Or . . . make it a holiday just for yourself. Hallmark may not have a card for I-Survived-a-Crappy-Childhood-Day but I suggest you make it yours. Use this day as a full day off. Sleep in, eat cake, see art, buy yourself flowers, go to a museum, shop for yourself and buy yourself an awesome outfit. 

Mother's Day is also painful especially for mothers who have lost a child. Just the sight of seeing other Mom's wearing special orchids or corsages can evoke heartache. Here are a few possibilities to make Mother's Day less painful: 

  • Spend the day (if possible) with the most gentle people you know. There are some people who have the attitude that one should move on after a certain point, that certain point is very personal. The last thing you need is to spend time with that Aunt who's tells you to just "get over it". 
  • Take time to honor your lost child whether that be in the form of a memorial or even something less formal like an hour just thinking about your lost child and reminiscing in good memories.
  • Spend time with other moms who have also experienced loss if you feel the need to bond and cry it out with those who have walked in your shoes. 
  • I also suggest that leading up to Mother's Day you take really great care of yourself with extra sleep and good nutrition. This day for many is sort of like an emotional marathon. 

Lastly, for all of us, know that Mother's Day is only 24 hours and tomorrow is another day that is not Mother's Day.

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Tags: motherless daughters


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  • I'm a church secretary. I wanted to run an insert in this Sunday's bulletin with the history of Mother's Day with a reminder to be sensitive towards people for whom the day has no happy memories. The pastor informed me that someone on one of the church boards complained when it ran last year. I was ticked off. People need to recognize that some of us don't need that day shoved down our throats because of the reasons you mentioned. I never attend church on that day because I can't stand sitting through all of the mom tributes.

  • Hillari, thank you for posting this. I would feel the same way.

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