Mother’s Day means different things for all of us. It can conjure up wonderful images and memories of young children making cute cards, or posies of garden flowers or precovid family lunches with 3 or 4 generations present. This year Mother’s Day will be like no other in the UK, but thankfully deliveries can help us with flowers, cards and presents so that mothers aren’t forgotten even though they’re not allowed to be visited.
A maternal figure is important in our lives. She may be our birth mother, adopted mother or any other significant positive female influence. At some point in our life, she provided love, nourishment and security. She may also have been a relative, teacher, or colleague and was important and influential in our life. She may not have been around for long, but she made a deep impression on us and may also have inspired us.
As happy as it is for many, Mother’s Day can also evoke more ambivalent images. Many people find Mother’s Day challenging. It has become more commercial over the years and it’s now pretty much impossible to avoid it altogether. The day can bring up difficult feelings for a lot of us including:
- memories of a mother or grandmother who has passed away
- increasing awareness of an unsatisfactory relationship we have with our mother
- a difficult relationship we have with our mother-in-law, stepdaughter or daughter-in-law
- difficulties in becoming a mother
- mourning the loss of a baby or child
- grieving the inability to become a mother
- mourning the realisation of not becoming a grandmother
The common experience running through all these situations is loss. The loss of a life and the profound impact it can have on us. Or the awareness that a relationship is not one we would wish for or choose. Or the loss of a hope or dream.
It’s important to acknowledge the complex effect this loss has had so that in time we are able to grieve and accept it. We need to give ourselves the time and space to mourn the loss and give it the respect and attention it deserves.
At a recent burial I attended, the celebrant spoke some beautiful words about mourning. He spoke about how at the beginning of a loss we think about the person all the time, how over time we gradually think about them less often until eventually we think of them occasionally. That they will always come up in our memory when fleeting everyday experiences remind us of them. We may think of our lost loved ones less often, but we hold part of them in ourselves, in our memory, for the rest of our life.
It’s especially helpful if we can talk about people we have lost with others who also knew them. To share memories and thoughts of them with someone else helps us reappreciate them and accept that whilst they may not be with us anymore, we carry them with us in our individual ways.
It can help to know that we are not alone. That Mother’s Day can be bittersweet for many of us, especially this year.
Although Mother’s Day is a celebration for many, we may also experience poignant moments and tears. When it feels difficult, be kind to yourself, and remember that this is understandable and ok. Once we’ve acknowledged our memory, loss and sadness it will pass.