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  • janetgoncalves

Mother’s Day is not happy for everyone.

Mother’s Day in general can be a trigger for many people. It is probably my least favourite day. It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions- sadness for what is vs what could/should/would have been, longing, and even anger. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings but to also meet them with self-compassion and being mindful of the moment to stay present with your thoughts.

Have you heard of self-care? It looks different for each person, but as a death doula I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care as you move through your grief journey. Mother's Day can be an emotionally taxing day, so taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is crucial.

I’ve mentioned in prior blogs the importance of rituals to honour the person who have died. People often ask me specifically what that would look like. I suggested that if they wished to leave the house, perhaps visit the final resting place of their loved one (burial site or for others it might be where ashes were scattered). Many people like to bring flowers (if permitted) and have a conversation at the gravesite, updating the deceased on events that have happened since the passing. As a cashier, I’ve had many customers, just prior to Mother’s Day especially, purchasing beautiful bouquets of flowers to lay on graves.

Another suggestion would be to visit a place that was meaningful to both of them- a favourite restaurant, a park, a movie theatre, a museum, a dog park, a mall, a stroll on the beach, etc.

If they preferred to stay at home, I suggested that they perhaps start the day by lighting a memorial candle (there are some nice long-burning ones available). Set a place for their deceased loved one at the table (perhaps with a framed picture of them on the chair/table) for each meal, and as they ate, to hold a conversation as if they loved one was still present. Cook the loved one’s favourite meals throughout the day. If they felt like company, include other members of the family. Play or listen to their loved one’s favourite music throughout the day, or during these mealtimes. Perhaps after dinner, watch the loved one’s favourite movie, or play board games or cards or other favourite shared activities.

Another suggestion I gave was to spend some time looking through old photograph albums and cherishing the good memories. Share and listen to memories from others as you feel is appropriate. Create a photo collage of your favourite ones. Journaling or recording these memories can be therapeutic. Perhaps you might consider writing a letter to your mother. Another idea would be to create a memory box which would be reviewed every year.

I also reminded them that what they did to celebrate one year, did not have to be the same ritual the following year if they wish to choose differently.

In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge and honour your feelings, even it they are painful. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions can ultimately help you to find peace and acceptance.

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