The day a woman gives birth to her child is also the day she is searching for the one person she knows she can rely on: her mother. For many of us, moms are there in times of need, want, celebration, and grief. They are often major pillars in our lives because they gave us life in the first place. No matter how old we are, it’s hard to imagine those transformative moments, like childbirth, without our mothers right by our sides.
As Mother’s Day approaches, many search the web eagerly to find that “perfect gift for Mom.” They order customized blankets, shirts, or coffee mugs. But we, the motherless, live with our bodies here on Earth, while our minds and hearts partially long for the realm of Heaven. We exist in a place that many others cannot understand. We gush with pride as our own children honor and celebrate us. But internally, we grieve a life that passed away too soon.
Experiences with Re-Grief
Losing a mother is one of the most painful heartaches anyone can experience. It’s often especially difficult when you become a mother yourself, balancing the complex emotions of grief and the responsibilities of caring for a newborn. For moms like me, who are constantly in a state of “re-grief,” life can feel exhausting. Psychologist Rochelle Perper, Ph.D, defines the term regrief as “part of the grieving process [which] occurs as a sudden and unexpected wave of emotion that can hit at any time.”
I was 14 when my mother passed away, and I am now 34. I spent years thinking of my mom and only smiling at the memories of her. In fact, I have created and sold hundreds of children’s books in her honor. But when I learned that I was pregnant in 2019, grief hit me like a ton of bricks. It was simultaneously one of the most joyful and depressing seasons in my life. There was no viral moment of excitement as my mother found out I was making her a grandmother. My phone was not constantly buzzing with a concerned “mama bear,” calling to ensure I was taking care of myself and her soon-to-be grand baby.
Mother’s Day Can Be a Time of Grief
Mother’s Day often serves as a reminder of just how unmothered I am. And I believe that many of you reading this feel the same way. I know there will likely never come a time when I no longer ache from the loss of my mother. But I do know that I am able to grow around my grief. I know that my life is not a summation of being “the girl whose mom died.” I also that know my mother is more than just “the mom who died.”
She was a monument of a personality who created a resilient daughter. She left this world with so many vibrant, beautiful memories for her loved ones to cherish. I will forever take solace in her life well-lived. So if you hold the pain of losing your own mom this Mother’s Day, I would encourage you to take steps to grow around those waves of grief.
Ways to Grow Around Your Grief
Embrace the grief
A major component I find helpful is to embrace my feelings. It doesn’t matter where I am when the grief strikes, I embrace it. If I hear a song my mother loved that puts a smile on my face, I dance to it. If my daughter makes a facial expression that reminds me of her, I either laugh or cry. If I feel angry because I miss her comfort in hard times, I let the rage flow. I cannot grow if I refuse to be honest with myself.
Honor her memory
The simple act of honoring a mother’s memory can be such a healing and comforting way to cope with grief. This can include creating a memorial, planting a tree, or donating to a charity in her honor. You could also start a new tradition, such as cooking her favorite meal on her birthday or visiting a place that held special meaning to her.
Understand the grief process
Grieving is a natural and necessary part of healing. It’s important to understand there’s no right or wrong approach to grief, and everyone’s unique experience will be different. Some might feel intense emotions immediately after the loss, while others might not feel much of anything until later. Allow yourself to be present with whatever you feel, and make an effort not to judge yourself for it.
Take care of yourself
As a new mother, it’s often easy to forget about your own personal needs, while focusing on the care of your infant. However, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care, especially when grief strikes. This includes healthy sleep, nutritious eating, and consistent exercise. It also means carving out time for enjoyment and relaxation, whether that’s reading a book, soaking in a bathtub, or walking outside in nature.
Lean on your support system
One of the most vital steps you can take in the grief process is to lean on your support system. This might include your partner, family members, or friends. Having others to share your feelings with is incredibly beneficial. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, consider a support group for those who have lost a parent.
Connect with others
Being a motherless mom is often a lonely experience, but remember, you’re not alone. Others can empathize with your grief. Consider reaching out to a support group or connecting with friends and family members who have also experienced a loss. This creates a safe, supportive environment with others who are dealing with similar circumstances.
Seek professional help if necessary
While grief is a normal part of the healing process, you might need some professional guidance at times. If you feel unable to cope with your situation, it can be helpful to seek out a therapist or counselor. This person can offer the actionable tools and emotional support that you need to grieve in a healthier way.
Growing Forward: Mother’s Day Weekend and Beyond
Grieving your mother as a new mom yourself can be a difficult, overwhelming experience. However, by understanding the grief process, embracing your grief, leaning on your support system, taking care of yourself, honoring your mother’s memory, and seeking professional help, you can still grow in the midst of this painful time. I am sending all of my love and care to you on this Mother’s Day weekend and beyond.
Peaches Dean is a parenting coach and writer/author. She uses her decade of experience in working with children and families to fuel her passion for writing. Her goal is to empower women in their life’s journey, especially as it pertains to parenting.
To learn more about Peaches, follow her on these social media platforms:
Facebook: Peaches Dean