10 Tips to Help You Cope with Mother’s Day Grief When Your Mother is Gone

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: May 9, 2023

Discover compassionate tips for coping with Mother's Day grief when your mother is no longer with you, focusing on mindfulness, self-care, and creative expression to honor her memory and find solace.

As Mother's Day approaches, the absence of your mother may feel even more palpable - whether it has been days, months, or decades. It's important to give yourself permission to grieve and honor your emotions during this time. 

Over the years, my Awaken Grief Support Program members have shared what helps them get through this tough day and the weeks building up to it. Because let's face it, you can't walk into the grocery store, Walmart, or Target this time of year without being smacked in the face by cards and flowers and other reminders of something you can't forget.

To help you get through, I blended what I have learned from my clients, my personal experience, and what I know as a thanatologist so you have something you can do to help you get through the day.

Because grief is deeply personal, some of these Mother's Day Practices will resonate with you, some will not, but try to pick out one or two that you can put into practice. Here are ten tips to help you cope with grief on Mother's Day.

Practice 1: Meet your feelings with self-compassion

Recognize that it's normal and natural to feel a mix of emotions, such as sadness, anger, and longing, on Mother's Day. Treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and gentleness as you navigate this challenging day. Rather than fight against the feelings, remember that you deserve love and care, especially in the midst of grief.

Try this: Place your hand over your heart and say to yourself, "This is hard, and I am doing my best."

Practice 2: Set an intention for the day

Take a moment to set a personal intention for how you want to spend the day. This could be as simple as allowing yourself to grieve, finding ways to remember your mother, or focusing on self-care. By setting an intention, you're creating a sense of purpose and direction for yourself.

Try this: Fill out the Special Day Planner, one of the most loved worksheets in my Awaken Grief Support Program. You can access the planner with an Awaken Free membership.

Practice 3: Be mindful of the moment

Engage in mindfulness meditation to help you stay present with your emotions and thoughts. Find a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. As thoughts or feelings arise, acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring your attention back to your breath. This practice can help you stay grounded and connected to the present moment.

Try this: Notice what you see, hear, and smell in the present moment. Then, take a few deep breaths and savor this moment as it is, even the bittersweetness of memory. This will make space for the love as well as the pain.

Practice 4: Engage in authentic self-care

Mother's Day can be an emotionally taxing day, so taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is crucial. Make time for activities that nourish and rejuvenate you. This may include getting outside, moving your body, scheduling time with friends, snuggling your fur babies, and creative activities, as shown below.

Try this: Set a time for 10 minutes, and do whatever feels right in your body, such as self-massage, stretching, yoga, napping or dancing around your house to your favorite power anthem.

Practice 5: Express your feelings creatively

Creative expression can be a powerful way to process your emotions and honor your mother's memory. For example, consider writing a letter to your mother, painting a picture that reminds you of her, or creating a photo collage of your favorite memories together. These activities can help you connect with your feelings and create a tangible tribute to your mother.

Try this: Create a mandala using your mother's favorite colors using the template found in my Awaken Grief Support Program. You can access the mandala template free with an Awaken Free membership.

Practice 6: Develop a ritual to honor your mother

Create a ritual that allows you to honor and remember your mother on this special day. This could be something simple like lighting a candle in her memory, or more elaborate like preparing her favorite meal and sharing it with family or friends. By engaging in a meaningful ritual, you're able to create a sense of connection and continuity with your mother's memory.

Try this: Gather items that remind you of your mom, such as photographs, letters, and keepsakes. Arrange them in a memory box, and every year on Mother's Day, take a moment to look through the items and reminisce. You can also invite family members to contribute their own mementos, creating a collective tribute to her life.

Practice 7: Reach out to others for support

Connecting with others who understand your loss can be incredibly helpful. Reach out to friends or family members who have experienced the loss of a parent, or consider joining a support group or online community where you can share your feelings and find comfort in the experiences of others.

Try this: Join the compassionate community in the Awaken Group & Course Membership. We meet regularly to support each other and practice self-care and coping skills. You can also google your local Hospice, which usually has groups available even if your mother wasn't a hospice patient. 

Practice 8: Celebrate the positive qualities of your mother

Take some time to reflect on the qualities and characteristics that you admired in your mother. Write them down, and then consider ways you can cultivate those qualities within yourself. This can be a powerful way to honor your mother's legacy and maintain a sense of connection with her.

Try this:

  1. Find a nice piece of stationary or a pretty template on Canva or other online design software.
  2. Write a list of 10 ways your mother impacted your life in a positive way, including giving birth to you.
  3. Savor how proud she would feel to know you are receiving her gifts.

Practice 9: Allow yourself to grieve

Give yourself permission to experience your grief fully. It's important to acknowledge and honor your feelings, even if they're painful. Remember that grief is a natural and necessary part of the healing process, and allowing yourself to feel your emotions can ultimately help you find peace and acceptance.

Try this:

  1. Pick three songs that remind you of your mom, and listen to them while snuggled in your bed or on a chair and let the feelings flow.
  2. Write a letter to your mom, letting her know you miss her, and how much you appreciate having her in your life.
  3. Follow this with something to balance out the feels - walking outside, watching a funny movie you both loved, connecting with a friend.

Practice 10: Consider seeking professional help

If you find that you're struggling to cope with your grief or the emotions surrounding Mother's Day, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can provide valuable support, guidance, and coping strategies.

Try this: If you feel overwhelmed on Mother's Day, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 - even if you are not suicidal. I used to work on the hotline, and one of our roles was to help people find ways to cope with holiday triggers and other hardships. Kind people are ready to help you cope with the pain of Mother's Day. You can also schedule a private session with me ahead of or after the holiday. 

Always be gentle with you

Coping with Mother's Day when your mother is no longer with you is a deeply personal and unique experience. Embrace the opportunity to honor your mother's memory and nurture yourself through mindfulness, self-compassion, and connection with others.

Your mother's love, wisdom, and presence will continue to be a part of your life, that never changes. By taking the time to grieve, heal, and grow, you'll not only honor her memory but also carry the essence of her spirit with you as you continue to walk your own path.

Be gentle with yourself, and know that you are not alone.

Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Living with Grief and the guided journal, From Grief To Peace. She is the creator of the Mindfulness & Grief System that is featured in the Handbook of Grief Therapies (2023) and is the founder of Awaken, a mindfulness-based online grief support group. Heather also hosts the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, and offers mindfulness-based grief support online through her organization, the Mindfulness & Grief Institute. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She currently lives in Falling Waters, WV.

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