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Written by Rachel Chistyakov, AMFT #108692
I lost my mother to suicide 10 years ago, when I was a teenager. I think about her daily and I always miss her presence in my life, but this pain is definitely amplified on Mother’s Day. Seeing pictures of my friends with their mothers, seeing commercials and ads for Mother’s Day deals and gifts, and getting countless emails from companies doing promotions for Mother’s Day can be exhausting for me and for countless others who don’t have a mom to share Sunday with.
Whether your mother has passed away, or if she hasn’t been a part of your life, or if you don’t have the best relationship with her, Mother’s Day can be a tough day emotionally to get through. Here are some tips that I have implemented in my life for the past ten years that have helped me cope with not having a mom on Mother’s Day.
- Take a break from social media. Being bombarded with photos of friends with their mothers and other Mother’s Day related content can be triggering and exhausting to see on a day that is already very heavy. This would be a good time to take a break from social media altogether; I recommend deleting social media apps off of your phone so that the temptation to go on isn’t even present! Then, once the Mother’s Day hype has passed, you can redownload the apps without having anything to worry about.
- Spend some time out in nature. Here in Los Angeles, the weather has been a little muggy recently, but even if it’s not the sunniest day out, I like to spend Mother’s Day out in nature on my own, with my dog, or with a close friend. I often find that being out in nature makes me feel closer to my mom, so spending my Mother’s Day outside has always given me some relief.
- Journal. Write down the feelings that you’re going through on this day in order to help you externalize them and document your journey through your grief. I haven’t had my mother in my life for a decade, yet certain important days like Mother’s Day make me feel like I am grieving her loss all over again. Writing down my thoughts and feelings on this day feels like a release for me. However, many people, including some of my own clients, dislike journaling because they don’t like going back and rereading triggering thoughts that they have had. If this is the case, I recommend shredding your journal entry afterwards- this allows you to still have a cathartic release, and the anxiety about having to reread your entry won’t be there.
- Visit the cemetery. If you can, I recommend spending some time on Mother’s Day at the cemetery. I often go and leave flowers for my mom, and I make it a habit to think of happier memories that I have of her when I am there. Often times, I see other women bringing blankets to sit by their mothers’ graves and I can overhear quiet conversations that they are having with their mothers. For some people it may be too early in the grieving process to take this step, and that’s okay. Everyone moves at their own pace.
- Confide in someone. Whether it’s a sibling, family member, friend, or therapist, confiding in one person about how difficult this day is for you allows you to have the support and love that you need on this day.
- Distractions are your friend! Order takeout from your favorite restaurant, rent your favorite movie, turn your phone to Do Not Disturb and indulge in some much-needed distractions on this difficult day. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t want to deal with this right now,” and finding something to do in order to take your mind off of things.
Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many of us; I hope that by sharing my own tips for getting through this day, I can help out whoever is in need. As a therapist, I work with many kids, teens, and adults who have lost their mothers in one way or another. Feel free to reach out for a free consultation at 818.422.7691, and know that you are not alone!