Mother's Day, is a day of celebration and memory. There are mother-figures who we will spend time with this year, call or text our greetings, to whom we will send flowers or for whom we will prepare a special meal. And for others of us, there are those who we can connect with only through memory. Our beloved mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, mentors and mother-figures who, although they are no longer living, have left handprints on our hearts.
Whether it has been days, weeks, months or decades since this special person died, there is no recipe for how you should or may feel on Mother's Day or any given day of the year. If there were a formula or a recipe for grief, then we might not have so many questions. We would know when to expect to start "feeling better," when we will stop crying, or feeling angry, or guilty; when the world would start to feel "normal" again. And down at the bottom of the recipe, we would have the reassurance that this will get easier. BECAUSE IT WILL. We just can't say how or when.
Each of us ultimately discovers that grief is a journey. It is not a problem to be solved, but a process to be lived.
As one woman said to me recently, "I was prepared for my mom's death; I just wasn't prepared for 'after.'" Grief is tumultuous and unpredictable. It doesn't follow a clear upward path. It is more like a roller coaster. It comes in waves. It ebbs and flows. There are days when sudden bursts of grief or bouts of crying may be triggered by anticipated events, like Mother's Day, and other times when the grief seems to come out of the blue.
And just as randomly, there are days when memories bring a smile, a laugh. And warm comfort.
I'd like to invite you to set aside some time this Mother's Day to take a moment to reflect. Find a quiet space and take a few deep relaxing breaths.
As you focus inward, you may close your eyes if you like, imagine what it would be like if you could see your mother or a special person in your life just one more time and have a conversation with them. What would you want to tell them? How do you imagine they would react? What might they say back to you about how you touched their life and what you meant to them? Notice what emotions arise. After a few minutes, slowly bring yourself back into the room. Then write or draw or paint or sing about your experience.
As you move through your life, I hope that you will discover meaningful ways to maintain a continuing connection to these special women and mother-figures in your life who you are remembering this year. You will develop a new relationship with them by keeping their memory alive in your heart and your mind. The love that you shared can be part of your life forever. May you have a warm and meaningful Mother's Day.
Fredda Wasserman, MA, MPH, LMFT, CT, is the Clinical Director of Adult Programs and Education at OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, one of the nation's most respected centers for grief support and education. Fredda presents workshops and seminars on end of life and grief for therapists, clergy, educators, and medical and mental health professionals at locations throughout the country. She is the co-author of Saying Goodbye to Someone You Love: Your Emotional Journey Through End of Life and Grief. Recognized as an expert in death, dying, and bereavement, Fredda has devoted her career to life's final chapter.