Mother’s Day is a day set aside for celebrating mothers, but not everyone has a mother to celebrate with.
It might be that their mother has passed away, was never around, is not someone that they wish to celebrate, or lives in a different country. For whatever reason, there are many people, both men and women, who choose not to or are not able to celebrate Mother’s Day in the traditional way.
For many of those that can’t or don’t celebrate Mother’s Day, the window displays, racks of cards, advertising, and social media content can be a stark reminder. Here are some ways to cope with Mother’s Day when you are without a mother for whatever reason.
If your mother has passed away
If your mother has passed away, you could celebrate the memory of your mother by doing some things that she would have enjoyed, for example, you could go on a walk that the two of you enjoyed together, visit a place that is special to the two of you, go through some old photo albums, listen to her favourite music, or watch her favourite movie.
Treat yourself to a pedicure, get yourself a bouquet of flowers and shower yourself with the love that you would have given to your mum.
If you have your own children, you could tell them stories of their grandmother, let them know how you celebrated Mother’s Day when you were a kid, and allow them to celebrate you too.
If you have siblings, it is likely that you are in the same boat, and perhaps spending the day together sharing memories would be beneficial. Let your family and friends know how you are feeling in the lead up to Mother’s Day and allow others to support you with this. If you don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day at all, it might be helpful to avoid places that people typically celebrate Mother’s Day such as fancy restaurants, brunch spots, and so on.
Do something to commemorate the day, for example, you could write a card to your mother and put it up at home, take it to the cemetery, or tie it to a helium balloon and release it. You could buy a bouquet of your mother’s favourite flowers or a box of her favourite chocolates, light a candle, and so on.
You can also create some new traditions such as using the money you would have spent on a card and/or present and donate it to a charity, or you could even sign up for a charity walk/run/swim/hike each year in her name.
If you choose not to celebrate Mother’s Day
You might choose not to celebrate Mother’s Day, perhaps because of a conflict, perhaps because your mother was absent, perhaps your relationship has suffered due to your mother having poor mental or physical health, or for any other number of reasons.
Having a parent who suffers from mental health issues can be incredibly destructive to the family as a whole, and especially to the relationship between parent and child. Having a mother who suffers from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar depression, eating disorders, and any other form of mental illness can tear a relationship apart. Of course, some mother-child relationships are able to withstand such a childhood, but many are not. Some are still in contact but the contact is strained and sometimes toxic.
Many of the ideas discussed in the above section would benefit someone who chooses not to celebrate Mother’s Day for any of these reasons, but here are some other ideas.
If you have your own children, then celebrate Mother’s Day with them. Celebrate that you are who you are because of or despite your own mother. Celebrate being the kind of mother that you are proud to be. Celebrate your own family.
if you don’t have your own children, you might know some other people who also choose not to celebrate Mother’s Day, and you can gather together to support each other and have a fun day together.
If your mother lives in a different country
If you and your mother live in different countries, it can be difficult and expensive to spend all holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries together. It is often the case that you need to choose which holidays to spend together and which to spend apart. However, nowadays, with the use of technology, we can have some face-to-face time with our family that lives abroad, even if we can’t actually be together.
You can still send a card or flowers using a company local to your mother or you could choose to celebrate Mother’s Day at a different time of year, perhaps combining other holidays such as birthdays or Christmas with your very own Mother’s Day.
If you are struggling to become a Mother
Struggling to conceive or experiencing miscarriages can make days such as Mother’s Day feel overwhelmingly emotional. Dealing with fertility problems is hard enough without having the world shove something like Mother’s Day in your face. It is important to remember that there are so many options for fertility treatments nowadays and that there are also so many ways to become a family including surrogacy, adoption, fostering, and IVF. This is another time that it is so important to lean on your support network; talk to your partner, your friends, your siblings, or seek out counselling.
To read more about how infertility can impact your mental health, click here.
In all of these different scenarios, and I’m sure there are many others, one of the most important points is this; allow yourself to feel. Losing a parent, or the chance to become a parent, whether through bereavement, conflict, or lifelong absence, is always going to be hard. It is normal to feel upset, angry, lost, or lonely, especially when such anniversaries or holidays come around.
Allow yourself the time and space to experience these difficult emotions, knowing that you will survive them. There is no quick fix for coping with grief, even if you feel that you have dealt with your grief years ago. Timestamps such as Mother’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries are always likely to bring back painful emotions and memories, but experiencing sadness on days like Mother’s Day is not wrong and doesn’t need fixing. Unfortunately, it is part of the price we all pay for loving someone so much.
If you would like some professional support to help you process your feelings in response to Mother’s Day, loss, or family conflict, counselling could be an option for you. We have a team of counsellors who are specialists in these areas and can provide empathic support. Call us on 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected] for a confidential appointment.