Remembering Loved Ones on Mother's Day

Courtesy of Roberta’s House in Baltimore, MD and the New York Life Foundation.

Happy couple with baby boy sitting on sofa at home

Mother's Day, like many holidays, can trigger emotions when your mother or mother- figure has died. You may feel sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness. You may even fear or feel uncomfortable being around others who celebrate Mother's Day. Families and friends must recognize the significance of Mother's Day for everyone and how it can affect each person in a very different way. However, you have the power to decide how to spend this special day. Consider these suggestions:

  • Practice self-care.  Whether this is the first Mother's Day without a loved one, or the 21st, we continue to react to the reminders of our relationship with this important individual.  
  • Make a plan for the day; don't just wait for it to "pass." Talk to your loved ones about the day ahead of time.  
  • Think about reframing the purpose of the holiday itself.  Reframing can allow the loss reminder to become a cause to reach out to others. Reframing allows the family to honor their mother and do something meaningful beyond greeting cards. The day becomes purposeful and allows the children to gain perspective.
  • Consider the impact of a loss on all generations. When planning Mother's Day, families should take special care to help children celebrate and honor them with new traditions. Consider how the absence of a mother affects everyone in the family.
  • Share memories and stories with people who knew her as well as people who never met her. 
    • Tell your story with your loved ones. Ask them to share their own stories. As you share your stories, you may begin to feel several emotions. Allow yourself to feel them. It is normal to get emotional when someone you loved has died.  
    • Consider journaling or creating a collage or scrapbook, this can be preserved to honor the life of your loved one.  
  • Engage in a special activity or a tradition that you shared with your mother. For example, if she had a secret recipe for making cookies, prepare them and share them with others. 
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Be honest and supportive. 
  • Do something that would have made your mother smile today. 

A story about having someone to remember this Mother's Day.

Two siblings remember losing their mother in a new animation,  presented as part of StoryCorp's work with the New York Life Foundation to preserve grief journeys of children and families.