Coping with Mother’s Day without mum

Trigger warning: this post talks about the death of a parent.


The first email arrived mid-February from a well-meaning greeting card company. “Your mum’s new favourite gift” the subject read. It caught me off guard as it was a full six weeks before Mother’s Day. But it might as well have said “Your mum’s not here anymore”.


And so it begins; marketing emails, shop windows, social posts. The constant reminder that Mother’s Day is coming is hard to avoid. For someone who’s lost their mum this time of year can be triggering to say the least.


The first Mother’s Day was the hardest, no one really warns you, how could they? I was prepared the date she passed away, her birthday, Christmas; but for some reason this one wasn’t on my radar.


Unsuspecting, I walked into my local supermarket only to be confronted by a wall of Mother’s Day merchandise. I wasn’t ready. I’d managed to fool myself on some level that she was just on a really long holiday, that she was coming back.


In an instant I was transported back to my childhood. Memories of her flashed through my mind like a highspeed montage until they brought me abruptly back to the present day - where they left me hanging in front of an emotional abyss.


Grief is different for everyone, but for me losing my mum has left an empty void, a black hole that is filled with a gut wrenching, howl to the moon primal sadness.


So there I was, stood in the seasonal aisle with ‘Show Mum You Care’ displayed before me. But I can’t show Mum I care, she isn’t here anymore. All the emotions that I usually managed perfectly well were suddenly erupting and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I burst into tears stood next to the boxed continental chocolates.


My mum died unexpectedly four years ago. It was an accident in the home, she fell down the stairs and her injuries were too much for her to sustain. The anger I feel that she was taken too soon will never subside.


To add an extra layer to the story, I now have two kids of my own. So whilst trying to manage my own grief, I also have to dig deep and put on a brave face for my children. The tears I cry will be a mixed bag of missing my mum, bursting with love for my boys, and wishing my mum was still around to watch them grow. She’d be proud of them.


It’s the everyday things that trip me up. When they do something funny, or brilliant and I reach for my phone to ring my mum then remember it’s not an option anymore. I still have her saved to favourites. I can’t bring myself to delete her number even though her SIM was disconnected a few years ago.


I don’t hate companies who use national days to sell their wares. I’m guilty too; Mother’s Day is the perfect moment to reach my audience. But it’s worth keeping in mind that if you know someone who has lost a parent, or indeed has lost a child, Mother’s Day can be particularly painful for them.


I can’t speak for everyone, but for me just a simple text message acknowledging that I might be feeling sad on Mother’s Day goes a really long way. It might seem awkward but what’s worse is the feeling that the world kept on turning and no-one noticed that my mum had gone.


And if you’re also grieving my heart goes out to you. Please talk to others about your grief and don’t be afraid to cry it feels good to let it out.

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