Mother's Day Is the Saddest Day of the Year for Women Who Lost Their Moms

mother's dayWhen I was in elementary school, there was one little girl whose mother had died when she was four and every year, we would make these little gifts for our moms. Sometimes they were potted plants or painted plates or mobiles we carved from tree branches and painted like rainbows, destined to get big hugs on mother's day and then sit in the back of the closet for decades. This little girl always smiled and did the project. She made her card just like the rest of us, only instead of making it out to her mom, she left it blank.

I don't know if she had a dad. I don't know if she had an aunt or grandmother or step mother. I just know that watching her make that project year after year, I knew she was sad and that her sadness made me uncomfortable.


At 7 we all avoided the topic. After all, we were "normal." We had our moms and we were busy thinking about breakfast in bed and pretty dresses we could wear for brunch on the second Sunday in May. I look back on that and I cringe. If only one of us had told her it was all right or that she could sit this one out or offered her some kind of alternative, then maybe it would bother me less. But no one did. When my own mother died just a few years later, when I was 16, I often thought of that girl.

And now I think of her even more. With just a few days left until Mother's Day, I am always reminded of just how much I hate this "holiday" every year. Nearly 20 years after my mother died, you would think I would have it more together. After all, I have my own two babies who are now four and six and they always make me sweet presents and honor me in ways that make me want to bottle up their beautiful innocence and hold some part of  it through the teen years.

But I still hate it.

I hate the flowery cards with sappy messages "for my mom and my best friend rolled into the same person." I hate the messages on television from various greeting card companies that show moms and their children reunited juxtaposed with photos of them growing up. I hate the happy people at brunch with their moms and the flower stores that sell bouquets "just for mom." I hate Facebook and the cheesy quotes most days anyway, but on Mother's Day it is even worse.

Sure, I am used to it by now. It used to send me into hiding from about mid-April until the Monday that followed. Now I can at least venture out and pretend to be happy. I can hang out with my family and be grateful for them.

I also have the adult perspective to know I am not alone now. It is not just people who lost their mothers who hate it. People who have lost children or had miscarriages or been unable to carry babies also find it difficult to get through. People whose mothers were difficult or who had bad relationships also tend to want to hide on the second Sunday in May. In fact, I would say about 25 percent of the people I know have some kind of issue with this holiday.

It's not that we need to stop celebrating. By all means, moms need a day to be honored, both the living and the dead ones. But I do think we ought to be able to have some space for the things this brings up for so many people. For anyone who has lost a maternal connection on any end, this holiday is really like lemon on a cut.

So what do we do? We smile. We pretend. We try not to ruin the day for others.

Well, I propose a new approach. I propose we speak honestly about our losses and what makes this day hard. I propose we stop pretending it is all happy and take some of the bitter with the sweet. Even those of us who have lose mothers or children or have been unable to have children we want deserve to not have to hide.

It's OK to not love Mother's Day. It does not make you a bad person or the ghost of Christmas past or some horrible harbinger of doom. It makes you human.

It's a hard day for a lot of people and for those of you who are suffering, you are not alone. The only thing that has helped me over the years is to try to find my own way of honoring both my mother and myself. When I want to bury my head, I do. When I want to spend it with my kids, I do.

And when I celebrate my father and husband on Father's Day, I try to be a little more sensitive to those who might be suffering on that day, too. It's the one thing loss does that is good. It makes you a more well rounded person and increases empathy. You have to take the good where you can, right?

Do you hate Mother's Day?






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tuffy... tuffymama

Not to be flip, but I would totally trade you your dead, good mom for my living, awful one. I'm sorry for your loss. I find that being the best mom I can be has helped heal some if the wounds from my childhood. Perhaps mothering with a departed mother's kindness and wisdom in mind can help heal the pain of loss?

zombi... zombiemommy916

Thank you for writing this...I KNOW...dreading Sunday BUT I will suck it up for those little faces, hands clenching those handmade gifts and this beautiful little infant in my arms...and to Tuffy, my mom died at 47, completely unexpected and tragically...and I blame myself for her death...reading what you wrote made me incredibly sad for you...I would give ANYTHING to have my mom on this earth, even if I never got to see her, touch her, hear her voice...just to know she's alive...I would be so happy...

eupeptic eupeptic

You can communicate with your mother anytime you want to as everybody has the ability to telepathically communicate with those who are in spirit. (You don't need to speak out loud as spirits can receive the words and perhaps also the thoughts in our mind if it is intended.) Spirits, however, typically have a limited means for communicating with us as most of us have yet to put the effort into what is important to know about spirit communication. (Books about spirit communication or channeling your spirit guide provide such information, and there are quite a few on Dreams are the most common way that spirits can convey messages to us, so if you want to you can communicate with your mother and let her know that you'd appreciate it if she'd appear (or otherwise convey information to you [it's best not to have high expectations while interacting with spirits as that is selfish]) in a dream of yours. Scents are a somewhat common way that spirits may interact with us, as well as just having thoughts or songs pop into or stay in our mind for a period of time. Visions are rare but possible, as are physical manifestations (e.g., things being moved or unexpectedly disappearing, or an apparition). (I've experienced most of the above over the past 7 years.)

Life in the World Unseen (linked) by Anthony Borgia is a good book to read (among others published by him) as it goes into detail about what spirit life is like and how we and spirits communicate with spirits.


My mom died when I was 2 and I was raised by my grandmother(who I loved dearly),but boy howdy mothers day Sunday was always just painful because when we went to church you got a rose:red if your mom was living and white if she had passed.My child brain could never wrap my head around the fact that my grandmothers mom was still alive and mine wasn't ,I should have been the one with the red rose not my grandmother.I think that might be why I hate roses.

Nelli... NellieAthome

Dear gods ----- indulge is self-pity and jealousy much?

Who the hell are you to want to spoil the day for those who do enjoy it just because you don't? Obviously your mother seems to have failed at teaching you to be considerate of others, without resentment,  just because they have something you don't.

Misha22 Misha22

I'm with you tuffymama. I'd trade places with anyone for the horrible "woman who gave birth to and tried to raise me" and with whom I refuse to refer to as a "mother" person. I am not fond of Mother's Day bc every year I am reminded that I never had a real mom - a mom who loved me no matter what- who wasn't selfish and nasty. My amazing father passed away last year after suffering with cancer and not a day goes by where I don't wish I still had my dad here instead. The only saving grace is my daughter- she makes Mother's Day special for me- so I suck it up and have a great day for her. And like tuffymama- being the best mom I can be helps heal some of the scars. 

nonmember avatar cherbear

It isn't resentment that you feel and it has nothing to do with anyone else. Those of us who have lost good Moms belong to a club that we did not ask to join. I lost my Mom on Fathers Day right before I turned 40. People who know me understand how difficult May, June and July are for me. I am and always will be extremely grateful that I had such an amazing Mother. She was the Mother I needed as a child and became my best friend as an adult. I don't hate the day, but it does bring me a great deal of sadness. So, I try to just enjoy the time I get to spend with my own 4 beautiful children and think about what she would think of them now.

nonmember avatar Sammi

I lost my mother about a month ago, so this is my first mother's day without her. I don't hate the holiday, but all the ads I'm seeing on every site reminding me to buy her a present do upset me.
Mother's day is tomorrow and my mom's birthday is next week, so my family is going to have a party in her memory. Thinking about good memories with family and friends is better than sitting around and being sad all day.

Net1957 Net1957

I don't hate Mother's Day because my kids make it special for me, but every year includes a trip to the cemetery to honor my mom, and that part is sad. 

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