Mother’s Day is a day of celebration and love and family. But it isn’t a happy day for everyone. For some people, Mother’s Day hurts and seeing that date looming on the calendar fills you with dread. Perhaps you’ve lost a child or your mother. Perhaps you haven’t been able to have children when you desperately wanted to. Perhaps your relationship with your mother or children isn’t what you’d hoped for. There are many reasons Mother’s Day may not be a happy one. So how do you get through it? Let’s walk through some suggestions given by Sophia Dembling on Psychology Today.
- Identify what you are dreading.
Usually, it’s emotions you don’t want to feel. This is why seeing that date on the calendar
starts feeling us with dread. Ironically, the build up of this dread can sometimes be worse
than the actual date. No matter how hard we try to push the feelings away, they must be
felt. If we stop the resistance and just allow ourselves to feel, it’s not usually as bad as we
think it will be. It’s often less painful to feel it than resist it. But most of us haven’t been
taught the skill of how to let an emotion be present and then pass through us. Instead, we
resist it, often by eating it, drinking it, shopping it or reacting to it.
- Name the emotion, then feel it.
What feeling are you trying to escape on Mother’s Day? Is it sadness? Loneliness?
Hopelessness? Regret? Power comes from naming the emotion. Then stop resisting and
allow yourself to feel it. Notice where you feel it. Is it in your chest? Your stomach?
Your throat? Notice how it feels. Is it tight? Constricting? Or heavy? If you allow the
feeling to happen, chances are it won’t last more than a few minutes. If there are more
emotions that need to be felt repeat the same steps.
- Decide how to use or not use social media.
Does seeing the stream of Mother’s Day posts make you feel worse? Does visiting social
media support groups make you feel better? Social media is a tool, so how you choose to
use it matters. If using social during Mother’s Day will make you feel worse, then it is
perfectly fine to avoid it all together.
- There is no right way.
There is no set ritual or tradition that works for everyone. You need to find what is most
helpful for you. If you’ve lost your mother or a child and it’s helpful to visit their
gravesite, go. If it’s not, don’t. Honor your grief in whatever way feels right, that will
offer the most healing. Don’t force a ritual out of obligation. Similarly, if you don’t have
a good relationship with your mom, and it is more hurtful to buy a gift and visit her
during Mother’s Day, you don’t have to. Give yourself permission to do what is right for
you. Since this is a hard day for you, don’t forget to seek out some self-care too.
Remember that you get to choose whether or not to observe this (or any) special occasion. It’s ok if Mother’s Day is not your favorite day. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to feel through whatever comes up for you. If you need someone to help process the emotions that Mother’s Day might bring up for you, contact one of our licensed mental health professionals. They can help you cope with the anxiety, depression, or grief that may come up for you.