It’s Ok If You Don’t Feel Sad Today: The Many Faces of Mother's Day Grief

May 12, 2024

Mother's Day. For many, it's a time to celebrate the women who have shaped our lives, the ones who have loved us, nurtured us, and made us who we are. But for some of us, this season can bring up a range of emotions that don't quite fit into the Hallmark card version of the holiday. In a nutshell: today can really suck. Or you might think it’s supposed to suck for you, and you’re surprised you don’t feel worse. 

Maybe your mom died–, whether it was recent or years ago, Mother's Day can be incredibly painful. Everywhere you look, there are reminders of your loss. The card aisle becomes an emotional minefield, social media is filled with photos of happy families, and it can feel like the whole world is celebrating while you're left with a void that can't be filled.

But grief isn't always straightforward. It’s never really one feeling at a time. 

Maybe when your mom died, it brought relief after a lot of suffering. So, part of you feels a sense of peace today. 

Maybe your mother is still here, but your relationship has changed or become strained over time. You might feel guilty for not being able to muster the same level of joy and gratitude that the day seems to demand. 

Or maybe, or whatever reason,  you feel guilty for not feeling "enough" grief.Maybe you imagined today would be full of tears, but you’ve found yourself (still) laughing at Met Gala memes, or going for a run,  or enjoying yourself when you think/you’ve gotten the message somehow that you should be solely focused on your loss. That you should be crying all day into your pillow because Mother’s Day is supposed to be really hard for you.

We’re here to remind you today and every day that  there's no "right" way to grieve. And especially on holidays, like  Mother's Day, grief can be complex, it’s always personal, and it looks different for everyone– and maybe looks different for you over the years or even throughout the day. Some years, the pain might feel as raw as the first Mother's Day without your mom. Other times, you might find yourself smiling at happy memories, even through the tears. All grief experiences are valid and real.

If you want to do something today specifically  honoring your grief , here are some ideas:

  1. Write a letter to your mom. Pour your heart out, share your memories, tell her all the things you wish you could say face to face. It might make you cry, but it can also be really cathartic.

  2. Break out the old photo albums and take a trip down memory lane. Laugh at the questionable fashion choices, and marvel at how young everyone looks.

  3. Make a donation to a cause your mom was passionate about. Whether it was animal rescue, cancer research, or supporting local arts, honoring her legacy through giving can be a powerful way to feel connected.

  4. Plant something in your mom's memory. Whether it's a tree in your backyard or a small herb garden on your windowsill, nurturing new life in her honor can be a beautiful, tangible reminder of her presence.

  5. Cook or eat something that reminds you of your mom. Maybe it’s a signature dish or her favorite bite to eat. Savor the scents and flavors that bring back memories.

Maybe specifically honoring your grief today feels like a terrible idea for you. That’s ok too. Sometimes, the best way to survive the day is to give yourself permission to do things that help you feel more restored. If that's where you're at, try these:

  1. Order in from your favorite restaurant, put on your comfiest sweatpants and declare it a Netflix marathon day. Bonus points for choosing shows that have zero to do with mothers or family drama.

  2. Get out of the house and into nature. Go for a hike, take a scenic drive, or just find a quiet spot to sit and breathe. 

  3. Round up your friends who get it and plan a day doing anything but Mother's Day stuff. 

  4. Dive into a project or hobby that makes you feel good. Whether it's painting, gardening, woodworking, or learning a new language, immersing yourself in something engaging can be a great way to give your grief brain a break.

  5. Sometimes, giving yourself intentional time to embrace the suckiness of grief might actually help lighten the load.  Turn on the melancholy music that really gets you going. Watch that really sad movie that hits you in the feels. And then turn it all off and go do something else. 

Bottom line? There's no rulebook for navigating Mother's Day grief. What helps one person might not work for you, and that's okay. There's no "right" way to grieve. There's only your way. And that is enough.

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