The week leading up to Mother’s Day is always difficult for me ever since I lost my mother thirteen years ago. Each year I find myself with the same exact feelings as the day approaches. Feelings of anxiety, bitterness, and an overwhelming sadness. I’m easily irritated, overly tired, and have no desire to do anything productive. It’s that life ain’t fair and I’m tired of having to deal with it without the comforting words and hugs of Mommy feeling.
A couple of years ago I compiled a list of things to do leading up to Mother’s Day that helped me and a few others who have experienced the loss of a mother or mother figure. And while I know from experience that nothing will heal the pain, it is my sincerest hope that this list will equip you with your own tools to at least get through the week and day how you see fit.
I have heard from many people that I handle myself so well, that I’m such a motivation and a support to others. They say my mother would be so proud. Well, I’m glad it looks good on the outside because on the inside the pain, the shock, the hurt; it’s all indescribable. Although each day is a struggle, Mother’s Day is the absolute hardest day of the year for me.
For me I don’t just wake up on Mother’s Day sad, it’s the days leading up to it. It’s walking in stores and seeing all of the reminders. It’s all of the commercials and the specials on television, It’s picking out cards for my aunts, grandmothers, mother in law, and friends. It’s the pain of seeing such wonderful gifts and displays and not being able to purchase anything for my own mother. But somehow, some way I continue to make it through.
Whether this is your first mother’s day without Mommy or your 50th- this post is for all of those who lost their mother/mother figure. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and I’m here for you in whatever capacity you need me to be.
So here goes:
PRACTICE FORGIVENESS It took me YEARS to release and share my feelings with anyone. I can only assume this is why people thought I was handling the death of my mother so well. It wasn’t that I was so strong; it was because I hadn’t really accepted it. Deep down it felt like she was gone on a long trip and would be back one day. When I finally let go and allowed myself to grieve, I got angry, really angry. Angry with myself for throwing myself into school and work in Mommy’s last months, angry with Mommy for waiting months to tell me the doctor had given her 6 months to live (she finally told me and my brother after she beat doctor’s prediction, sadly 2-3 weeks later she was gone).
When she passed I stayed in constant prayer, talking to God daily. I found a little peace in that and was convinced this was a part of His plan for our lives, but when I finally let go and allowed myself to grieve- WHEW! I became angry with God. And how dare I have the audacity to be angry with our creator? In my delusion, I started trying to bargain with Him. It didn’t bring Mommy back but for a moment I thought, what if it could? Once I snapped back into reality I was able to FORGIVE and ask God to forgive me.
Take time to FORGIVE. Forgive yourself for things left unsaid or undone. Forgive your family and friends for not knowing how to be a comfort to you. Forgive your mother for leaving you. If Mommy had a choice she would still be here with us, but that’s not our reality and we have to learn to deal with the hand we are dealt. Forgiving does not mean forgetting; hold on the memories, the good times, the things you enjoyed together. Let go of the things that weigh you down. Forgive.
Write Mommy A Letter It has been my experience that I become the saddest after an accomplishment, a milestone, or celebration. Many people would be excited to graduate from college-first from the best HBCU in the land, Morgan State University, and a few years later Johns Hopkins University. They would be excited to have a beautiful wedding, give birth to the best baby in the world, and celebrate family holidays. And don’t get me wrong these are all joyous and wonderful occasions that I have shared with many family and friends. But each occasion, each milestone for me has an overcast of sadness, a longing to have Mommy right by my side.
When I see people post about their adult children online I think-Mommy would do that. When I see pictures and funny stories I think, Mommy would love that. When my child does something so incredibly funny, sweet, or outright ridiculous I wish I could call her and tell her all about it. When I want to attend events and be involved in different activities I think-I would never need to ask for a babysitter, Mommy would probably already be at my house or calling me to tell me she was coming to get her baby and I just know my son would be HER baby!
There are so many things she missed, so many things I still wanted to tell her, to share with her. So much more I still needed from her. Take some time one of these days and write or type Mommy a letter. Tell her everything you wanted to tell her but never got a chance to. Tell her how much you miss her, tell her the joke you heard at work, tell her about what you’re doing this weekend, tell her anything that you’ve always wanted to share.
Watch Mommy’s Favorite Movie or Television Show Find some time to kick back and watch your mom’s favorite movie or television show. Try to find something cheerful, something that will make you think of the good times and smile. You may shed a few tears and you’re allowed to, but try to remember the laughs you shared and the jokes you made.
Create a Grateful List and Get Creative Get creative and focus on all of the wonderful things we have to be grateful for. Yes, life is hard without Mommy. No, it will never be the same. But if we’re honest with ourselves we still have things to smile about.
Instead of the usual writing, which you’re totally welcome to still do, take out some crayons, paint, or colored pencils and create. Draw, paint, or sketch something(s) that makes you smile, the thing(s) that make you happy, the thing(s) you thank your creator for daily.
Reflect on the things you still have here in the physical form and all that you have to be thankful for. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an “artist” this isn’t about your artistic talent. This is about you letting go of some of the anger and focusing your energy on the blessings we still have here. You may even find it helpful to share this activity with a loved one.
Have A Honesty Moment Here’s my honesty moment: I am envious of the relationships my family and friends get to still have with their mothers. I am envious of the people who get to call their mother and tell them about their day. I am envious of the people who have on-call babysitters every week because their mothers love spending time with the grandchildren. Some days I am sick with how unfair this life without my mother is. Days like this I have to remember that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I have to remember there is a purpose for the pain. There is a reason well beyond my understanding. I’ll continue to work through these feelings and while I may never understand it, I hope my experience can comfort someone else.
Take Care of You It is my hope that this list has you reflecting, letting go, and hopefully finding some peace as Mother’s Day approaches. While in the midst of everything we must make sure we are taking care of ourselves-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We are no good to ourselves or anything or anyone if we’re not taking care of ourselves. This process is about healing and we have to commit to healing our whole selves. Take some time to create a list of at least 20 things you would like to do to improve your self-care. Your list can be as simple or as grand as your heart desires. I was going to give examples, but I want your list to be as organic and as you as possible.
Create Your Self Care Plan Once you’ve created your list of 20 things to do for self-care, I want you to now create a plan to make at least two of the items from your list a reality this month. Yes, THIS MONTH! Again, start as simple or as grand as your heart desires.
If one of your goals is to exercise more- create a schedule to make it happen. If you want to read your bible more-make time during the day, download the Bible app, make time. If you want to go back to school- start researching TODAY.
The point is to begin taking care of YOU! Grief and stress can take a toll on us but we owe it to ourselves and our moms to live a life full of happiness.
I sincerely hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. And maybe that’s the point of it all. Maybe God trusts me with this pain to help and heal others.