By Last Updated: May 13th, 2022

When Mother’s Day Is Hard: Coping With and Getting Through It

For many people, Mother’s Day is a joyous holiday, where family and friends gather together to celebrate the woman or women they call Mom and what it means to be a mother. Meg McMillin said: “Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness ahead of your own”—which is why we celebrate moms with this holiday.

But for many people, Mother’s Day can be a challenging time where they may be dealing with the loss of a mother, or even as mothers, the loss of a child. Plus, there are other challenges that might complicate the holiday for individuals, like infertility, miscarriage, or strained relationships with parents.

For those who are struggling this Mother’s Day, here are a few ways you can cope.

How to Deal with the Loss of a Mother on Mother’s Day

Whether she passed away yesterday or 30 years ago, it can always be difficult to get through Mother’s Day when your mom is no longer around. If your mom or the mother of someone you know has passed away, there are a few ways to navigate the holiday.

  • Send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them or consider making a donation in their mother’s name to one of their favorite organizations/causes. You could also consider how you would want someone to reach out to you if you were in their position. Putting yourself in their shoes can give you a helpful perspective as you seek to provide comfort during the holiday.
  • If you yourself are struggling with a loss this Mother’s Day, you can also make a donation in your mother’s name to a cause or do something that day that your mom would have loved, to take your mind off the holiday (even better if you’re able to do it with family or friends). Whatever you do, try your best to avoid putting yourself in a situation that will cause stress.

Mother and daughters together celebrating mother's day

How to Deal with the Loss of a Child on Mother’s Day

There is no Mother’s Day more special than that first one with a child, and there is no Mother’s Day harder than the first one without a child. This is an extremely challenging holiday to get through, after experiencing such a devastating loss.

  • Allow for the sharing of memories of the child and don’t be afraid to say the child’s name out loud, as this can be important as part of mourning.
  • Don’t be afraid to give and receive some space. If you are dealing with the loss of a child, you might want to be alone on the holiday, and that’s okay.
  • Schedule an activity to take your/their mind off of it, as best as possible. It can be a welcome distraction from a difficult time of year. Surrounding yourself with people or things that make you happy could be very helpful.

How to Deal with Infertility on Mother’s Day

For those who can’t have children, Mother’s Day can also be a painful holiday, especially when you see people on social media saying how thankful they are for their children. If you or someone you know cannot have children, here’s how you can support them or yourself.

  • Plan a trip with friends to take your mind off of the holiday. Something adult like a spa or retreat can be really fun and relaxing.
  • Take a social media break in the days leading up to, and including, Mother’s Day.  Your social media feeds are sure to bombard you with photos, videos, memes, and reels about Mother’s Day. Avoid it if at all possible.
  • Take up an activity to keep yourself moving. It could be weekly walks with friends or maybe a class. It might even be a support group. Whatever it is, it’s also important to know that you are not alone and that there are many people just like you.

How to Deal with a Strained Mother Relationship on Mother’s Day

Maybe you or your friend don’t even have a relationship with a mother who is still alive. Perhaps the relationship you do have is toxic or unhealthy. Mother’s Day can also be incredibly excruciating for people who are estranged from their parents.

  • If your friend speaks ill of her mother, let her do so, but you shouldn’t, because it’s still their parent—not yours. Whatever you do, approach the relationship without judgment and act as a shoulder they can lean on, an ear they can bend.
  • If you yourself have a strained relationship with your mother, reach out to someone that you think of as a maternal figure in some capacity and let them know how much you appreciate them. You might even want to plan a lunch together.

A great quote about motherhood comes from Herman Hesse: “If I know what love is, it is because of you.” But on Mother’s Day, this quote can also be applied to the many friendships and relationships that fulfill people with or without mothers. For those who have difficulty with the holiday, you can turn this quote into a celebration of the spirit of motherhood and how we all have the capacity to love and take care of each other, just as any parent should.

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