Celebrating Mother’s Day when your mum is dead

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“It’s just too hard. Even five years later, I still find myself deflecting thoughts, pictures and objects that take me down the road called grief.”

No one wants to relive the death of a family member, and yet for those whose mothers have passed, they cannot help but be reminded of that sad day each second Sunday of May.

It is a day dedicated to the celebration of mothers everywhere, but how do you celebrate a woman who is no longer with you?

Brian Orme, in his Faith It story, explored this dilemma.

His mother succumbed to breast cancer some years ago, and still the pain of her death was fresh for him, making mother’s day “less of a flower-filled parade and more of an exercise in grief avoidance.”

“I desperately want to celebrate my mom, but I often find myself looking away—cutting off the things that trigger deep emotion,” he said.

“It’s just too hard. Even five years later, I still find myself deflecting thoughts, pictures and objects that take me down the road called grief.”

He mentioned a research by Emily Esfahani Smith, published in The Atlantic, which studied people coping with loss.

“Researchers found that some mourners are more emotionally durable than others, and those who get past grief all have something very important in common—they performed what researches refer to as private ‘rituals.’”

The rituals are idiosyncratic: one woman continued washing her husband’s car as she normally did, another man still went to the hairdressers every first Saturday of the month because that was what he and his wife used to do.

What these rituals did for those people was control their grief. It also boosted their confidence and helped them grieve less than others who didn’t face their loss head on.

In the end, Brian decided to face Mother’s Day head on, this time without avoiding her mother’s memory or by ignoring the celebrations.

“This Mother’s Day I’ve decided to force myself to be present for every memory—to let the waves crash in, to let my knees go weak, and let momentum smash the ‘dailiness’ of life, because I’m tired of running.”

“This Mother’s Day I plan to grab grief by the cheeks and pull it in close and look it in the eyes, unflinching,” he said.

“I plan to visit my mom’s gravesite and reread the private letter she wrote to me just before she died.

“I plan to smell every flower, remember her laugh and her love for others, listen to the songs she loved and to cry and smile and maybe even curse a little, if necessary.”

Also Read: "My First Mother's Day as a single mum"

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza