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How to Cope with Mother’s Day When You Don’t Have a Mum

Everywhere you turn, from the supermarket to browsing online, in the run-up to Mothering Sunday, there are constant reminders of the person you've lost or what you’ll never have. You may not want to deny anyone else the chance to celebrate their Mum but it is painful nevertheless. Here are a few ideas to help get you through Mothering Sunday.

Let’s start by being clear – no matter what you do or how hard to try to avoid it, the commercialism of Mothering Sunday in the UK will be everywhere. And it will be painful. It comes as a shock and yet you know it is around the corner.

Let’s start with a personal story. I don’t often do these because being a celebrant is not about me, but about you. I popped into a local supermarket and there, out of the blue it-wasn’t-there-last-time-I-came, was a card stand full of Mother’s day cards, and cards for Grandma and Nan (we, my sister and I, also part of Jackson’s Funerals, don’t have any of them left either). It was a sharp jab, a reminder that I still won’t be buying a card.

Like most people, I dusted it off. In the weeks before Mothering Sunday, I raise my eyes above the level of the blush pink card holder and scoot past, the trolley parting the shoppers.

I won’t be the only person doing it. There are thousands of people who, like me and my sister, will avoid or close down the day.

How do you manage and cope with Mother’s Day when your own isn’t around?

It’s OK to sit out the Mother’s day garden parties and family meals

Some families make a fuss of Mums, Nans, Grandmas and Aunties on Mothering Sunday. And that’s great. We all deserve a little recognition from time to time.

Just as it is perfectly OK to join in a party or gathering, including Zoom ones that became popular during lockdown, it is also OK to say no.

People often assume that the first Mother’s Day without your mum (or significant female) is the hardest. This isn’t the case for everyone. It wasn’t for me.

So it doesn’t matter whether it is the first celebration without your Mum or the 20th Mothering Sunday without her being around, if you are not feeling good about it, it’s OK to back off.

Some people find sending a note to the significant women in their life, other than Mum, is a great bridge for staying in touch without the celebration potentially derailing you.

You could send a note to mum. Write a message on a parcel tag and tie it to a tree or pop it in the firepit as you sit out one spring even and the message will float into the ether.

Disconnect from social media

… and anything else where there are constant reminders or words that hit home.

Social media is usually flooded with people celebrating their Mum or significant women in their life. Whilst it is great for them, it isn’t if you are struggling this year.

Sign out of social media and do something else instead. Enjoy the sunshine, potter in the garden, cook, bake, read… anything that takes you away from the well-meaning world of social media.

Share a memory

In the early days, sharing a memory can be too painful. But as time marches on, you may find you start to seek out these memories and talk about them.

Photos are a great way of giving the memory a little kickstart. It could be reminiscing over a holiday or the time you laughed so much together, your faces ached.

But it is also to not do this. To pack that away and come back to it another day. We assume that with our grief, we have to deal with things and face things so that somehow, we face-off the pain of losing someone. It doesn't have to be this way.

Your grief cannot be prescribed, just as it doesn't follow a set pattern or timeline, as some people think it should. And neither do you need to 'pull yourself together'. You do you.

Be sad or happy – whatever you are feeling is OK

Grief is intensely personal. It changes and morphs as the days and weeks roll on. Some people seem able to cope and manage it well, whilst others retreat and withdraw. It is also common to find a groundswell of anger too, as well as relief.

It may be that you will be sad this Mothering Sunday or maybe, you are in a good place, enjoying the day with family or friends.

Create a new tradition

Previous Mother’s Days may have been celebrated with the first BBQ of the year or a meal out, or a family get-together. You may feel that these things now belong in the past and that the time has come to form a new tradition.

It could be challenging yourself to cook from your Mum’s recipe books or read her favourite book or enjoy a film or two that she did.

Your grief will follow your path. Don’t think that you have to do anything on Mother’s day if you don’t want to.

Your own way of celebrating

Take a moment to celebrate your mum, to think about her, to remember her. Shed a tear or two, and raise a smile.

Remember, this is all a learning curve, learning to live life without her physical presence. It takes time, just as it also takes courage.

You’re doing great.

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