Is Mother’s Day Complicated for You? Here’s How to Cope - Humantold

Is Mother’s Day Complicated for You? Here’s How to Cope 

Kristina Damiano, MHC-LP May 8, 2024

Whether due to the loss of a mother or child, a challenging or estranged relationship with your mom, or infertility challenges, Mother’s Day can feel challenging and complicated for many of us.

As with many holidays, sometimes it can be difficult when Mother’s Day rolls around. A day in which we are supposed to celebrate and honor Mothers can often feel challenging and complicated for many of us. Whether due to the loss of a mother or child, a challenging or estranged relationship, or infertility challenges, it is important to know that you are not alone and there are ways to cope with these feelings. 

Grief comes in many forms and when it comes to the mother child relationship there are many reasons one may grieve that loss. Whether you are a mother who lost a child, a child who lost a mother, or a mother or child with a complicated or estranged relationship, this day can often bring up deep feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger, and pain. Leading up to Mother’s Day, the plethora of commercials, ads, and messages seen everywhere you go and on social media, can often trigger these feelings before the day itself even arrives. You may notice yourself in the weeks or days leading up to Mother’s Day feeling sad, anxious, on edge, irritable, stressed or even feeling a sense of dread. Accepting and honoring that this is a difficult time of year for you is important and knowing that it is okay for this day to not be a celebration for you. 

If you have lost a child or mother it is important to honor that relationship and connection you have with them. There are many ways that you can cope with these feelings of grief and loss on this day. One way is to engage in activities that allow you to feel connected to this person. For example, if they loved cooking, maybe make their favorite dish, or if they loved nature, maybe go for a hike or plan significant time to be outside that day. If you are able to plan some time to honor them you can choose to write them a letter, no structure necessary but just a space to talk to them. Another way to take care of yourself during this difficult time is to honor your own needs and not feel the need to be around others. Removing this obligation from yourself can help alleviate unnecessary stress on a day that is already emotionally draining. Only surround yourself with family or friends who make you feel supported and loved. Try to not surround yourself with people who may feel like a drain or require more from you on a day when you are feeling vulnerable. 

Having an estranged relationship with your mother can also make this a difficult time of year and can be a reminder of the tumultuous relationship or past hurt and trauma. It is never an easy decision when one must set boundaries to protect themselves and cut ties with their mother. For many people instead of Mother’s Day being a day of flowers, love, and happiness, it can be a direct reminder of the pain, hurt, and disappointment that comes with having a parent who was emotionally unable to attune to your needs as a child. For those of us who struggle with an estranged relationship, grief is also sometimes inevitable. It can be a day to mourn the relationship you always needed but never had. It can be a reminder of the relationship we may never have.

Coping with a difficult relationship with your mother on this day can come in many forms. One way is to give yourself the love, patience, and acceptance that you may have never received. Know that it is okay to feel angry, sad, and jealous of all the sappy and happy posts you see from those lucky enough to have a great and close relationship with their mom. Often when we have a harmful relationship with our mother, we tend to hide our feelings especially if we are mothers ourselves as a way to make the day easier for others. We may also hide these feelings to eliminate the comments from others who may shame you for the decisions you have made. Sometimes hiding our feelings makes the day harder. Allow for the space for multiple truths. You are allowed to feel angry, sad, jealous and ALSO grateful for your own family, friends, or children that try to make the day feel special for you. Pay attention to how you are feeling leading up to this day. Are you feeling more irritable, less patient, on edge, depressed? Honor your needs and allow space to mourn and feel your feelings. You can choose to skip the day and cry in bed if you need to. You can choose to spend the day with your chosen family and surround yourself with some of the very important women or people in your life. You can choose to give yourself some love and self care in your favorite forms. However you choose to spend the day, always remember that you were the child and that relationship with your mother was her responsibility to nurture. You needing the space for your well being is not selfish but rather a form of giving yourself the emotional attunement you never received. Remember that those who tell you ‘blood is thicker than water’ or ‘you just get one mother’ don’t understand and won’t ever understand the hurt that relationship has brought you, and that is okay. 

Struggling with infertility issues or miscarriage and having to have Mother’s Day very much in your face these days can also create complicated feelings during this time. For many women who are struggling to become mothers, no matter what that journey may look like, Mother’s Day can create an environment of pain and defeat. You may experience complicated emotions and feelings of grief and sadness. One of the best ways to cope with this is to have strong boundaries with those around you. Figure out what you need and don’t need during this time and be vocal about communicating this to people ahead of time. For those people who will ask you the dreaded question of ‘when will you have kids?’ have a response already prepared and don’t be afraid to make them as uncomfortable as they may make you. It is okay to simply tell people ‘that is only my business to worry about and you should be more aware of the reasons why that is an inappropriate question.’ Also, remember it is not your job to educate people on why this is wrong, simply stating that it is, is enough to honor your boundaries. Another way to cope throughout this journey is to listen to what your body needs. Give yourself permission to give your body rest, love, space, activity, or anything that will feel good and provide comfort. 

No matter the reason why Mother’s Day may not be a celebration for you, remember that you are not alone. Take inventory of how you are feeling and what you and your body may need leading up to the day and the day of. Treat yourself with care and your favorite things. There is no right or wrong way to spend the day, whether you choose to surround yourself with love and support or spend it alone, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that there are no ‘shoulds’ and you have the permission to do for you what feels safe. Remember that all of your feelings are worthy of your attention and especially on this day you should tune into your needs and not the needs of others.

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