Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate our grandma, our aunts, and most importantly our moms. I remember growing up celebrating this day at my grandma’s home in Connecticut with bagels for the whole family. For many years, this was what I knew. Today, a year and a half after losing my mom to cancer, I know that celebrating this holiday is a blessing.
This is my second Mother’s Day without my mom. For those celebrating a motherless Mother’s Day along with me, this is for you. For anyone who knows someone like us, here’s how you can help. And, to those of you honoring loved ones from afar this year, here’s what I think can help you both get through the day and honor those you’ve lost (or are missing from afar).
Give yourself permission to feel how you feel: There is no right or wrong way to feel, regardless of the television ads and social media posts. For some this is a day filled with joy. For some of us, it’s a terribly painful day and that’s okay. You don’t have to be strong or push away your grief because others are celebrating.
Share your grief with others: For many, grief is a lonely experience. It’s hard to understand what someone is going through if you haven’t lost someone close to you. One way to help your friends and loved ones understand, is by talking about it. At Experience Camps where I am a volunteer, we help kids who have lost a parent share their feelings with friends and family by writing letters to their loved ones on milestone days. Think about celebrating your mom this year by having an open and honest conversation with someone close to you about how this day feels to you. They may even want to share with you how they are feeling in these difficult times.
Use social media sparingly: Like any Hallmark holiday, your newsfeed will be flooded with postings celebrating the day. If it helps, take a time out this weekend. I like people to remember my mom on days like these, so I will be sharing a tribute to my mom this weekend.
On monumental days like these, I really try to lean into whatever feels right to me in the moment. And it’s okay if that changes from day to day or year to year. For me, I’ve lost my dad to cancer over 5 years ago and my mom to cancer less than a year and a half ago. Some years I’ve wanted to just stay home, workout and stay busy. Some years, I’ve wanted to just hide under my blankets and cry. And some years I’ve wanted to go outside and celebrate, to honor the memory of my parents with friends and family.
There is no right on this day, only right for you.
Danny Goldberg is an Experience Camps volunteer. Through his podcast, writing, and speaking he shares his lessons and perspective on dealing with tragedy and coming out on the other side better, stronger, and more capable of building a purpose driven life.