Dealing with Mother’s Day When You’ve Lost Your Mother

When others are gathering as families celebrating with their mothers, many have lost their mothers and may feel empty and lonely. Here are some suggestions for you to handle this if you had a warm, nurturing relationship:

  1. Gather with your family and each one tell a story about her and how she affected their life. One way to start would be,” I remember the time when she_______and how I think this affected me was_______. Don’t forget to tell funny events too!
  2. You can read a story about your mother’s struggles and triumphs of growing up and facing challenges (this will take preparation before she died, such as, interviewing her by video or audio). Don’t forget to share pictures of her through her life.
  3. You can ask for the opportunity to sit with your spouse or partner and talk about your grief of missing your mother (a wonderful gift your partner can give you to listen and be there for you).
  4. Establish a ritual, such as, having a special place setting at the table for her when the family gathers for a meal.
  5. Honor your mother’s memory by doing a nice deed for another.
  6. Contribute to one of her favorite charities.

How do you deal with having had a difficult relationship with your mother and knowing this can never be repaired? This is another kind of grief of letting go of the dream of having a special relationship with her.

  1. Write an unsent letter to her writing down all the things you weren’t able to share together – all your disappointments. Ask your partner for support by listening to your letter without comment – perhaps holding your hands and looking at you with “loving eyes.”
  2. Find out if there were some good memories from other relatives.
  3. Plan a special day for you and your partner or family to celebrate your life and relationships.
  4. Focus on positive aspects of your life and how you were able to overcome problems despite your mother’s limitations and lack of support.

Some of you have lost your mothers when you were children and may feel “abandoned” even though your mother may have died of an illness. Whatever the circumstances, Mother’s Day may bring up these memories and you may experience great sadness. Yes, even if this was a long time ago.

  1. A good book to read about this subject is Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman.
  2. Ask other relatives to tell you stories about your mother and what value you played in her life.

On this Mother’s Day, may you celebrate your meaningful connections with others.

Ann Klein – Columbia Marriage and Relationship Counseling teaching couples effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, reestablish intimacy, and restore caring and connection in their relationships.