A Mothers Day ‘Survival Guide’ is somewhat different to the plethora of Gift Guides doing the rounds. The reality is that Mother’s Day is a contradiction for some .. it can be a reminder of loss in so many ways, while at the same time it can also be a heart centred celebration. Behind the commercial (and often tasteless) side of this ‘day’ lies a complexity of potential emotions and sometimes even darkness.
Think about these aspects of Mother’s Day for a moment: the woman who aches to be a Mother yet has no partner or has experienced miscarriage or baby loss, the single Mother who may be a widow or a victim of abuse, the Motherless Mothers, the Mothers of children living with illness, disability or addiction.
I know that this is confronting and far from the ‘rosy pink’ picture most of the world seems to paint of Mother’s Day, I am not going to apologise though.
It is important that we address the realities and provide some hope and support for those of us who experience Mother’s Day differently to most. As a single, Motherless Mother my story is one of complex emotions at this time. I celebrate, embrace and cherish my own role as a Mother. I have also lost two babies along the way so I know too well the sense of longing and grief at this time. I am unable to celebrate my own Mother or my precious Nana in person anymore, so the grief that lies silently waiting to surface always finds its way into my days at this time. It is often the case that most people simply don’t consider that there is so much more going on for so many people at times like Mothers Day.
If you or someone you know is feeling anxious or sad about Mothers Day, please know that you are not alone. I suspect that there are many people out there in this place. I have a friend whose 40 year old wife died suddenly late last year, this will be his first Mothers Day without her, with their two young sons .. yet another perspective so far from ‘Hallmark’. I can only imagine how much pain is currently weaving its way into their already grieving hearts as they are confronted with the advertising and reminders.
On a more positive note, remember that there is always something to be grateful for. Grief may be constant and finding some light is near impossible at times I know, being able to find the lessons and the positives is pretty much essential though if you want to survive Mothers Day (and life in general!). It has taken me a lot of practice, working out how best to take care of myself at times when I know I am going to be fragile. I hope that if you are struggling, you find some shared experience and some comfort here:
♡ Find your tribe
It can sometimes feel as though you are alone in this place, when the rest of the world is booking fancy lunches, buying expensive gifts and getting swept up in the commercial frenzy! If you can find a ‘tribe’ of like minded souls who are living through similar circumstances as yourself this will be such a beautiful thing for you. I know that there are many support groups, Facebook groups and also online forums for many of the circumstances that relate to feeling overwhelmed.
♡ Talk about it
It really does help to talk, and sometimes an objective mental health professional is your ticket to healing! I have been speaking to professionals for many years as a part of my ongoing management of anxiety and depression and I cannot recommend this highly enough.
♡ Practice lots of self care
It is essential that you put yourself first sometimes, it is not selfish or self indulgent. It really is the best way to take care of yourself and in turn take of your family and contribute most purposefully to the world!
♡ Treat yourself
For many years I longed for someone to buy me flowers, organise a Mothers Day lunch, buy me a card or do something special just for me. The longing turned into frustration and anger and sadness, not good! I honestly believe that we need to treat ourselves, provide the things that we most long for ourselves, this is the ultimate act of self care and self respect. Of course it is lovely when these things also come from others however it is so much more fulfilling and empowering to make our own happiness. Remember that nothing outside of ourselves can truly provide this.
♡ Create a memory box or album
If you are missing someone this Mothers Day, create something special as a way of turning your grief and loss around. If you are ready for this type of activity it can be very healing and it honours the memories and feelings of your missing loved one. I am planning to do this with my 5 year old son to remember and cherish my Mum and Nana this Mothers Day.
♡ Journal your heart out
I have recently returned to the practice of free writing, or journalling. It is such a beautiful way to safely express yourself and spend some time sitting in the ‘sacred alone’ as Susannah Conway so perfectly names it.
♡ Do something fun
It is important to remember to laugh, spend some time with the people in your life who know how to have fun and who can distract you from your quiet pain. It is perfectly OK to laugh while you are also grieving, guilt can creep in and attempt to derail your fun .. laughter truly is the most amazing medicine!
♡ Ignore the hype
It may be that you need to avoid commercial TV for a while, you know how I feel about that anyway! It is well worth taking a break from this toxic place regularly and whilst the world is peddling out the barrage of rosy pink perfectness there is no better time for a TV-tox! Remember that behind every Hallmark moment there is a story you know nothing about. Perfection is a myth.
♡ Make a grateful list
It can be helpful to make a list of the things you have learned through your loss, the things that you are grateful for knowing even though you would prefer not to have learned this particularly painful way. It may be something simple like being more compassionate, or being able to support others through volunteer work.
♡ Feel all of the emotions
It is not a good idea, although tempting, to push aside the feelings and emotions and pretend that you are OK. Asking for help is a sign of self respect, and in turn it allows others into your story and your pain. Feel your way through it, take your time, and sit with your emotions, just don’t spend too much time there!
This right here, is a safe space in every sense of the word. I live for turning my own pain into the light that guides others out of their darkness. If you want to share anything at all please know that it is welcomed and respected xx