To All Of The People Spending Mother's Day Without A Mother
by Daley Grace Sweeting as published on Harness Magazine
This Mother's Day will be my 13th without my mum, who passed away in 2004. There have almost been as many Mother's Days without her as there were with her. The first few were particularly hard and consisted of me putting on a brave face, cringing inside at peoples sympathetic smiles and ended with me crying in a heap on the bathroom floor. While the loss of a parent never gets easier, with the right self-care, I have become more resilient over time, and now I am able to get through the day relatively unscathed.
With that said, I am not immune to the emotional trauma the lead up to Mother's Day can cause. Living in a capitalist world, you can scarcely get through your day without being bombarded with mother-related marketing. This morning alone, I got eleven emails from various companies I'm subscribed to; seen adverts in every shop window I passed; and got three letters in the post, all screaming at me to make sure I don't forget that Sunday is for Mother's. Honestly, if ill-prepared it can be quite exhausting.
So, with preparedness in mind, I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me survive this dreaded day over the years:
1. The Lead-Up Is Always Worse
I don't know if it is because of all of the adverts or people talking about how they are going to spend their day, or even just me imagining all of the ways this is going to be the worst day ever. But I used to spend weeks in advance stressing about it coming up, only to find that it comes and goes as quickly as every other Sunday. And usually, by the time it does come around, I'm already thinking about other things, like "Oh, god it's Monday tomorrow!".
My advice to you is to try to live in the present as much as possible. Allowing your mind to dwell and stress about how you may or may not feel in the coming days can be a massive drain on emotional energy you are going to need to keep your spirits up.
2. Make Plans
You may be a people person; you may not be. It doesn't matter whether you plan to be around others, or shut yourself away from the world for the day; structure is your friend. What you don't want is to be sitting and looking at your four walls, getting lost in your woes because you have too much time on your hands to think.
Plan a Netflix marathon or a day trip. Go for a run or to the cinema. You may even have friends who are in a similar situation or can't get home to their families - organise a lonely hearts club! There are no rules, and there is no "right" way to do this. Just make sure to do something.
3. Treat Yo'Self!
This day, of all days, is one to be kind to yourself. Remember what I said about making plans? Run yourself a bubble bath, light some candles. Watch your favourite movie or tv show (mine is Gilmore Girls). Stock the fridge with your favourite foods in advance. Get that book or that coat that you have been wanting to buy, you deserve it.
4. Allow Yourself Time To Grieve (if you need it.)
There is no shame in this. You have not failed if you find yourself breaking down. You are not weak if you still cry, two, twelve or twenty years on. There is no time limit on grief or recovery. It's okay to take a moment to reminisce. And it's okay if doing so leads to a tear or two. The most important thing to do is acknowledge your feelings, rather than push them down. Let them wash over you. Like all things, this too shall pass.
If you can, channel your feelings in some way. You may find it helpful to write down your thoughts and emotions as you are experiencing them. For several years I wrote letters to my mum, just to get some things off my chest.
5. Don't Feel Guilty If You Don't Get Sad
Like I said earlier, the lead up to the day itself is often worse. There have been years when I have completely forgotten what day it was until someone else mentioned it. It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty for not being beside yourself with grief and spending the day in mourning. Don't do this to yourself: the absence of sadness is a sign that you are healing and that can only be a positive thing.
6. Shake It Off, Dance It Out
Grey's Anatomy fans out there will be familiar with this concept. Before you go to punch me in the face, no, this is not the part where I tell you to "get over it." This is just another tool I use for getting through tough times. Sometimes what you really need is a big boost of endorphins. Put on your favourite song, grab your hairbrush and dance it out like no one is watching! Believe me, it works.
7. Celebrate Your Strength
Remember that you are a survivor and you can get through this. And when you do, don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back.