Mother's Day is supposed to be a celebration of us, a celebration of all the hours of effort we pour into parenting, but the upcoming holiday can be hard for some, because after all, before we were someone's mama, we were someone's daughter.
When a mother's own mother is no longer in her life, the day can be bittersweet, but there are ways to honor your mother and yourself this weekend.
Hope Edelman is the author of Motherless Daughters and the co-founder of the Motherless Daughters Retreats. She says that while this day can be especially hard for new moms who lost their mother as they became one themselves, it can also be difficult for women whose mothers died years ago. "They may be having a resurgence of grief because their mom is not there to help them, she misses out on that, the child misses out on having that grandmother, all of this can come up in the transition to motherhood and beyond," she explains.
According to Edelman, one of the most painful parts of Mother's Day for the bereaved is feeling like your mom's memory only exists within yourself. "If you can externalize that and find ways to make her part of the day it can make the weekend emotionally easier for you. It can make you feel a little lighter and it can help you reconnect with your mom, which is the goal," she says, suggesting women spend the day engaged in an activity their mother liked to do, or write a letter directly to the mother they are missing.
She also suggests connecting with other moms who know what it's like, and not shouldering this burden alone. "It can help enormously to connect with other women who have similar life circumstance because they will understand what you are going through," she explains. "There are quite a few groups online. On Facebook there's a Motherless Daughter's group and there's a Motherless Mother's group."
There are also Motherless Daughters support groups in many cities, for moms who want to make some face-to-face connections. Edelman is even co-hosting a free conference call the day before Mother's Day for moms who need a little extra help getting through this holiday. "We'll be having a conversation with the women about how to be gentle and kind to themselves on Mother's Day weekend, and how they might find ways to bring their mother into it."
Edelman notes that it's important to also make room for women whose mother's haven't died, but from whom they "are estranged or whose mothers are not capable of being engaged mothers to them or who do not want to be grandmothers. There's a sadness and grief to that too."
As Edelman says, when we become a mom ourselves and see the world through a mom's eyes, our own loss can come into clearer focus. If you're struggling this weekend, reach out for support, remember the good times with your mother and remember to celebrate the other important mom in your life: You.