That’s how I learned to manage Mother’s Day without my mother

I wasn’t expecting to be emotionally assaulted when I checked my email, but the subject lines hit me without warning.

And my favorite: “Don’t forget mom!”

Please. I have mourned for her for six years, and not a day goes by when something doesn’t remind me of the underground music-loving, cocktail-making, hard-working ER nurse and mother-of-four named Lydia, who fought with every ounce of her strength against lung cancer.

The author and her mother Lydia.

Nicole Lyn Pesce

However, I’ve been trying to forget Mother’s Day now that I don’t have that special lady to treat her to brunch, flowers, or FaceTime. But it’s hard to escape. Mother’s Day is one of the biggest retail holidays in the US, and Americans are expected to spend a record $31.7 billion on their mothers this year. according to the National Retail Federation. In fact, Hallmark values ​​people Send 113 million Mother’s Day cards each year. So this time of year, the mother of all well-intentioned, well-oiled marketing machines bombards our inboxes, social media feeds, websites, and TV shows — which is really, really hard on the kids who are grieving our mothers.

“In the first year after I lost my mother, I remember rolling my eyes at all the commercials, deleting all the emails before I actually read them, or switching channels and thinking, ‘ Will this ever end!’” said Jessica Buckley, 41, of Long Island, whose mother also died of cancer a few years ago.

“It’s a tough time,” agrees Simona Rosekelly, 37, in DC, who also lost her mother a few years ago. “The sales ads, commercials that you try to turn a blind eye to… but then everyone updates their Facebook FB,
Profile pictures to show their mothers or post pictures of their mother. I go from low to low during the day and avoid social media. I can only distract myself.”


The author and her mother Lydia.

Nicole Lyn Pesce

More and more families are facing a difficult Mother’s Day this year, such as Mother’s Day Nearly 1 million Americans have now succumbed to COVID-19. The World Health Organization has warned that the global death toll is around 15 million people.

And COVID-19 can make the pain worse in other ways. Kristin Bianchi, a licensed psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Behavioral Change, told MarketWatch that the pandemic has made the grieving process “even more lonely.” Some people are still staying at home and isolating because they are immunocompromised, or they live in areas where COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. “We don’t have access to the kind of physical contact and support we rely on to get through times of loss,” she said.

That’s why she’s encouraging mourners during the pandemic to “let people in” as much as possible, even if that means calling someone or zooming in with someone just to sit and cry.

Continue reading: Grief amid the coronavirus – what you should know and how you can help others

Mother’s Day isn’t the only emotional minefield of a holiday when you’ve lost a parent; Father’s Day is also coming up next month, as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. And if you’re a mother who has lost a child or a woman who is unable to conceive, this weekend can also bring a tsunami of sadness.

Because avoiding these holidays entirely is impossible, grief counselors suggest meeting them head-on in a way that feels comfortable for you and your family.

“The uneasiness and sadness will remain because you miss them. But you can counter that physical loss by showing her presence, even if you can’t give her gifts,” Allison Gilbert, grief expert and author of Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, told MarketWatch.

“Incorporate her into the day because she’s still your mother and you still care about your relationship,” she explained. “Take time to look at photos. Email or call someone to talk about them. Post a Facebook post reminding her of her. Or just say her name out loud. It’s more affirming and restorative than you think.”


The author (c.) between sister Chelsea and her mother Lydia.

Nicole Lyn Pesce

Sue Carter, a counselor and therapist at Kara Grief Support for Children and Adults, suggests doing something your mom enjoys doing, like eating her favorite food or spending some time thinking about her.

So sometimes over the last few years my family has returned to the beach where we have made so many happy memories sipping yoo-hoo, eating bagels and swimming as far out as we could before my mom yelled at us to stop the to tempt spring tides. Or we toast them with Baileys Irish Cream, one of their favorite adult beverages, play their favorite Wilco and The Shins songs and swap stories about them.

Buckley also enjoys going to the beach with her husband and children on Mother’s Day. Rosekelly once got a forget-me-not flower tattoo in honor of her mother. And sometimes she’ll make a cup of tea, sit in front of a framed picture of her mother and “catch up” with her – just like they used to meet when Rosekelly came home to visit. (I’ve tried this myself a few times, like on Mom’s birthday or the day after I got engaged; drinking coffee in front of her ballot box and letting her know everything that’s going on. And it hurts, but it’s also cathartic to feel .Sometimes I surprise myself by laughing while catching her about something I know she would have enjoyed.)

Both also strongly recommend chatting with other people who are going through this – be it via Google GOOG,
Hangouts, Zoom ZM,
or another video conferencing app, or just a good old-fashioned phone call or meet up in person for a hug.

“You’re not alone,” Rosekelly said. “There’s a great but silent sisterhood out there — and brotherhood.”

This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated and republished to include new data and the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s how I learned to manage Mother’s Day without my mother

Brian Lowry

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