How to deal with grief on Mother’s Day

The passing of a mother, even for an older adult, is one of the hardest things most people will go through in life.

“Grief is not optional, it is the price of admission.” 

So very true! Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and the day of recognition can be a complex and triggering one for those who have lost their mother.

The passing of a mother, even for an older adult, is one of the hardest things most people will go through in life. Whether you had a great, difficult, or somewhere in-between relationship with your mother, this event will likely have a significant impact on your life. Grieving over someone who was such an integral part of your life can impact you in such a way that overwhelming feelings can rush back even years later after your loss.

For many, losing a mother means losing a sense of safety and security. It may mean losing someone—perhaps even the only person—who loved you unconditionally, who was your biggest supporter, and who occupied the greatest space in your life. Their presence in your life may be matched only by their absence. The loss can truly feel overwhelming.

A 2007 study suggests that the death of a mother has more negative effects on daughters than on sons. According to the study, women who experience the loss of a mother are more likely than men to:

  • binge drink
  • have a greater decline in self-esteem
  • have a lower level of personal growth

A recent study even found that parental loss is linked with depression.

There’s no ‘right way’ to cope with the loss of a mother. If you dread the return of Mother’s Day every year and feel sadness and pain around it, you are not alone.

The following suggestions are alternative ways to celebrate Mother’s Day to provide you with some inspiration on how to hold this day in a way that feels good and right to you.

  • My life has been blessed with a beautiful soul whom I love to pieces and consider to be my second mother, Betty Wilson. She is wise, caring to a fault, and has genuinely enveloped me with unconditional love. Ma Wilson fuels me with much-needed mothering energy! Consider spending Mother’s Day with women whom you consider to be second mothers like an aunt, grandmother, mother-in-law, older sister, or even a good friend. Allow them to help you cope with the day. Try to plan something you enjoy doing and invite them to participate. Allow these nurturers to wash away your sadness. We should not feel as if we are on an island grieving alone. We need each other; emotional pain is a universal connector.
  • Get together with folks who were close to your mom, who understand the depth of your loss, and who can lend a genuine sympathetic ear. Share pictures of your mom and try keeping things upbeat by dwelling on the positives, you know, those funny, silly, and heartwarming times spent with your favorite lady.
  • Spirituality is not only a salve for a broken soul but an incredible comfort during times of grief. Take a moment to meditate or pray — no matter what your faith — spirituality can put troubles into focus, and even fuel and strengthen you.
  • If you prefer spending time alone on this day, try going for a walk, hike, or drive along a scenic road to reflect on your Mom. Quiet time can also be therapeutic.
  • Surround your mom’s framed photograph with flowers. Plant a favorite flower bush or tree in her honor in your garden. Make a donation in her name to a favorite cause she supported. Visit places that both you and your Mom enjoyed frequenting like a fave eatery, museum, retailer. These kinds of activities are actual tools that will help as you journey through this important life transition.
  • Try journaling. Using a journal to work through your thoughts and feelings can help you construct a new self-narrative. Writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions but many people find journal writing valuable and report feeling better afterward.
  • Spend the day mothering yourself. Think about ways in which you could spend the day giving yourself attention and care the way your mom may have given to you. Perhaps this could mean booking a supportive therapy session, spending the day at a spa, getting a massage, taking yourself to a nice restaurant, or even going on a shopping trip. On Mother’s Day incorporate anything that helps you feel ‘mothered,’ cared for, and looked after.
  • Disconnect from all social media. Spare yourself from all those chipper Mother’s Day posts. Set your cell to airplane mode. Let your family and friends know you will be offline for the day and do whatever it takes to support yourself emotionally.


Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day with much love to my beautiful Mom and queen, Providencia Rivera Manuel, you are forever in my heart…