When you’ve lost your mother, Mother’s Day can be a difficult time.
Those of us whose moms have passed are filled with a deep longing to celebrate our own mothers. Mother’s Day commercials, decorations, and celebrations all serve as reminders of what we don’t have. Coworkers or acquaintances will ask, out of small talk, “Are you doing anything with your mom for Mother’s Day?” and it will make for an awkward conversation.
With social media this becomes even more difficult, as our feeds are bombarded with photos, making the whole thing unavoidable.
When my mom first passed away, I was incredibly bitter during this time of the year. I was stuck in a “Why me?” way of thinking and felt it was unfair that everyone could celebrate while I was stuck sulking. I remember seeing moms with their daughters out in public and feeling immense envy for the ability to be able to spend time together, even for something mundane like grocery shopping.
Do they know how lucky they are to still have their mothers? Do they treat them well and tell them how much they love them?
All I wanted was to hug my mom again and feel that unconditional love that only a mother could give. All I wanted was to share with her what was going on in my life and receive her wisdom. Her support. Her I’ve-got-your-back-no-matter-what. Her smile. Her laugh. But overall, her presence in my life. It was difficult to accept that she would miss all of my life events; graduating college, getting married, having children. What will it be like when I become a mother myself?
I often come across things I want to share with my mom, but can’t. I’ll find gifts I know she’d love, but I can’t give them to her.
In these moments, I’ll mentally share it with her and imagine that she can hear me.
Four and a half years, and a ton of inner work later, I am at peace with her death. I am accepting of her loss because I see no other option. When you live your life thinking, “Why did this happen?” or, “Why can’t she still be here?” it will only cause suffering. Of course, I miss her every day and wish that she didn’t have to leave so early. But when you dwell in the space of “Why me?” your pain will pull you away from the joy and happiness in your life—the very things your loved ones want you to experience when they’re gone.
Acceptance of the things you can’t change is the key to living a life of freedom. My mom’s death has taught me this virtue of acceptance in an enormous way. She has given me strength I didn’t possibly know I had, both directly and indirectly. Most people (and at one point, me) say things like, “I can’t even imagine what it’d be like if my mom died. I wouldn’t be able to get through it.” The truth is, you can—and you will. We are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. It is in these moments of suffering that we recognize our strength. This strength is born out of necessity, and from it, we can rise above our circumstances and overcome.
Our loved ones are much too often taken for granted. We don’t realize that at any moment they can be gone (and, in my case, it was completely unexpected). We don’t think about the possibility of losing our loved ones because it’s too painful. And as a result, we don’t spend as much time with them, or share our deepest feelings or emotions with them until it’s too late.
If I have any advice to offer, it’s this:
Cherish the people you have in your life. Don’t take them for granted. Appreciate their presence in your life. Don’t hold grudges, negative feelings, or let fights go unresolved. Forgive them for things they’ve done wrong and let go of any resentments.
Call them, visit them, and spend as much time with them while you can.
Tell your loved ones how much you love them, everyday. Share how much you love and appreciate them. If they died tomorrow, would you regret not telling them how much they meant to you? Would you regret not thanking them for everything they’ve done for you? If so, remind them often. Not only would it make you feel good, but they would appreciate hearing those loving words from you.
I believe strongly that we should give people their eulogies while they’re still alive.
Of course, it goes without saying that I miss my mom to no end. And I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult to write this. But because of her, I have tapped into my inner strength and discovered a part of myself I never knew existed.
Through healing my own pain, I am empowered to help others heal theirs, too.
I am incredibly grateful for having such an amazing mother, who has taught me an innumerable amount of lessons—both during and after her life.
So this Mother’s Day, I celebrate my mother, and all mothers who have ever lived. Because of them, none of us would be here, and we wouldn’t have been given the gift of living lives of joy, growth, and love.
At the end, it all comes down to love, and what a wonderful gift it is.
Author: Kat Elliot
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Han Cheng Yeh at Flickr
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