I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a post on Mother’s Day as a) I didn’t want to make it worse for myself and b) I wasn’t sure if I really knew all that much about coping with the difficult day and the days/weeks before and after. However, whilst I’ve been pondering on the idea I’ve realised I’ve unknowingly put together a little survival guide for myself which helps me handle the day and everything surrounding it a lot better. Mother’s Day can be so hard for so many people, not just those who have lost their mums, but those who have lost their children, those lovely ladies who want to be mums and unfortunately can’t for some reason, those who have difficult relationships with their mums and many other situations. This won’t be the longest post in the world as I still find the topic a little hard to talk about but if it is a hard time for you, then this list can help bring a bit of light to this time of year.
1. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Yeah, I know, this is probably the last thing you want to do right now. But, eating right, getting enough sleep, getting out and doing some exercise if it suits you can really help as it means your emotions won’t be magnified by lack of sleep etc. Sticking to your usual routine can help to make you feel more ‘normal’ too which will make the days leading up to the day and the day itself a little easier as it will feel more like a usual week and weekend. Looking after yourself also means you can spend a little extra time pampering. As I’m typing this, I’ve just had a lovely long hot shower as I was feeling very ‘meh’, so take some time to look after yourself a little more than usual, just so you can be as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
2. TRY TO AVOID SHOPPING EVERY DAY
This one I’ve learnt through trial and error. Getting out of the house is important to me at this time of year as if I stay inside for days on end, I’m not overly busy, my mind wanders, and I end up picking out all the things in the house that remind me of mum- a habit that is thankfully disappearing slowly. One of my favourite things to do when I’m feeling a bit rubbish is to go shopping, but then you are faced with endless Mother’s Day stalls, banners, cards and everything in between for many weeks before and a few days the week after the ‘big day’. As I said in the last point, it’s important to stick to your routine so do go shopping one or a couple of times a week if it’s what you would usually do, but don’t make yourself face it all every day as it will inevitably do more harm than good. At this time of year, I try and shop online although this also doesn’t help as ever website is covered with Mother’s Day deals, reminders and banners. If I do go out and I can’t avoid it in shops, I’ll quickly bypass the big pink displays and enjoy the rest of my shopping. The problem with this is that it could be dotted around elsewhere (so you have to face the emotions again) or, more commonly for me, I’ll bottle up the emotions which will probably arise later on when I’m not expecting it. In my opinion, the best thing to do in this situation is either to accept it’s there and focus on the positives if you can, or to avoid shopping and focus on your other hobbies, just for now.
(Bonus Top Tip- When you receive Mother’s Day emails, delete them straight away and then they won’t be staring at you from your inbox every time you check your mail)
3. TALK TO LOVED ONES AND TAKE A ‘TIME OUT’ IF YOU NEED IT
Another one I’ve learnt through trial and error. At school in the years following mum’s passing I would always pretend I was fine until one day I would just crack resulting in me having panic attacks, being in floods of tears and having to be sent home. Not nice. I would then be a wreck until Mother’s Day was al done and dusted and this carried on well into my time at University, and I just couldn’t seem to shake this way of coping with it. I thought that I had to be fine with it all as it had been a couple of years and ‘shouldn’t I be over it by now?’ It wasn’t until I had grief counselling last year that I realised there is no time limit on grief. Mother’s Day will always suck for me and there is no real point in pretending I’m fine when I’m not because it all ends in tears (literally) anyway! There are ways of coping, you just have to find which ones work for you. Talking through your feelings and emotions with your loved ones (whether that be a father, sibling, partner, friend) can really truly help. If you’re not ready to talk things through just yet (I wasn’t ready for years), just take a little time to yourself and let those around you know you’re feeling a bit lost and sad, but you don’t want to talk about it. They will understand and it’s a weight off your shoulders not having to pretend everything is rosey.
4. DON’T EXPECT YOURSELF TO FEEL A CERTAIN WAY
Something I have done in the past is expecting myself to feel really sad in the week before and to feel happy when Mother’s Day has passed. Turns out, feelings don’t work like that and it is completely okay to feel a whole host of emotions at any hard time in the year. Just the other day I felt sad and I started wondering why I wasn’t crying. I started questioning if it was a bad thing and did it mean I don’t care anymore? Of course this isn’t the case, it just means I’m healing and I don’t need to cry at every point I feel sad about mum not being here anymore. That’s when I realised (or, more accurately, when Dad pointed out to me) that I can’t expect myself to feel a certain way and you shouldn’t put that pressure on yourself either. It’s okay to not cry and it’s equally okay to ball your eyes out. It’s okay to carry on and find the positives but it’s equally okay if you take a week feeling sad about it all. You just have to go with how you feel at the time. Talk to those you love and let them know when you’re down, and make the most of it when you’re feeling a bit brighter. No one is judging you or expects you to act a certain way, so please don’t let this be an added stress for your lovely self.
5. TRY TO BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS
Probably my most controversial tip but one that definitely comes with healing. Mother’s Day as someone who is grieving or missing a connection can make you feel so angry at the world, and you end up hating every mother-daughter pairing you see out and about. I used to cry if ever I saw a mum and her daughter out together. I remember once I was shopping with my friend in the year or so after mum passed and I went to try something on. I was in the changing rooms and I heard this mum and daughter have a conversation much like what mum and I used to say: ‘Ooo that looks nice darling!’ ‘Thanks Mum!’ and other comments of the like. It hurt so much at the time and it’s taken me a while, but I always think it’s better to be happy for people when you can, rather than to be angry that they have what you’re missing. You don’t know the individual and they may be struggling with other things in their life and so now I like to think that instead of being angry, jealous or upset, I feel a twang of missing her and then I’m happy for them as they still have that lovely connection. My mum was my best friend and it really sucks she’s now not here anymore but I am so so incredibly grateful I even had that relationship with her. At this time of the year it can still be difficult, but now whenever I see a mum and daughter together I either feel happy for them or I’m reminded of mum and I get this warm glow of gratitude that I had her in my life and she’s looking down on me every day.
I hope this helped some of you out a little, and if you needed a bit of reassurance, I hope it reminded you you’re not alone if you find it hard at this time of year.
However you spend the day, whether it’s with your beautiful mum or just having a day at home with the other amazing people in your life, I hope it’s a gentle and relaxing one for you. Feel free to send me an email or comment if you need someone to chat to about anything in the post
With all my love always,