Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day grief: Celebrating memories helps ease the pain of loss

Not everyone will be able to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. For those who have lost a mother, it can be a painful day of mourning, especially if this is the first Mother’s Day without Mom or if young children are grieving, too. This may also be a hard day for women who have experienced infertility, pregnancy loss or the loss of a child." —Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support

I remember my first Mother's Day without my mother like it was yesterday. Mom quietly passed away at home on December 26th after a valiant 22 year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Looking back, one of the best things I did after Mom died was join a grief support group facilitated by a trained grief counselor. One of the most helpful things I learned from the counselor was that everyone experiences grief differently, there is no time limit on grief that it takes as long as it takes.

Some Grief experts will tell you that we grieve in stages designed to move us from denial to acceptance of the death. Others say that grief is different for everybody, that there's no set pattern to follow. There's probably some truth in both points of view, depending on the one doing the grieving. One thing is certain, it helps to have a coping strategy in place for those difficult times, like birthdays and holidays. The Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support says that coping with grief on Mother's Day can be especially hard on women, men and children. The Good Grief Center offers these tips for getting through this highly celebrated day:
  • Do something positive in memory of your mother. Choose an activity that will connect you to her.
  • Ask a trusted friend or coworker what helped them when their mother died.
  • For children, Explain that this is a good day for good memories of Mom. Break out the photo album and reminisce with them.
  • If you’re a woman who never held your baby due to a pregnancy loss, celebrate your baby by lighting a candle or planting a flower that blooms every year.
Those for whom the pain of grief at losing a mother still lingers, it may be helpful on Mother's Day to celebrate your memories of your mother. Recall stories of good times, her favorite sayings or special occasions. Share your memories with family or a good friend. And if tears come, let them come. Tears are God's way of cleansing our soul. Don't shrink from this day or let it control you. Rather, meet it head on as your mother would want you to. Whatever way you choose to celebrate, make yours a Happy Mother's Day!
Since my Mom's passing, I have not missed celebrating her on Mother's Day. Usually, I mail her Mother's Day card to me. On that special day, I read the card aloud, and wish her a "Happy Mother's Day in heaven." Afterwards, I may have dinner with a friend or cook one of Mom's favorite dishes. It brings me such joy and helps me to get through this day. Following is my tribute in memory of my dear Mom. Please use it as a model to write your own if you'd like.
I Remember Madre (Mother)
I remember her hugs, her smile, her laughter, her hazel eyes that changed color when she scolded me. I remember her coconut lemon pound cakes, her Hungarian goulash, apple cobblers, pigs feet and potato salad dinners that raised money for our church.
I remember her voice, her advice, her unconditional love and encouraging words as I went off to college. I remember how smart she was, how forgiving, how funny and how simple things brought her so much joy.
I remember her kindness, her courage, her faith, her final words, "Don't forget, I love you...up to the sky and back." I haven't forgot, Madre, I never will. I will always love you—up to the sky. —by Carolyn K. Erwin

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