2016-06-30
Although Mother's Day is usually a time of celebration, for some--those who have lost a child or a mother, are struggling with infertility, or have a difficult relationship with their mother--the day can be filled with pain. Last week Beliefnet asked our readers for tips on coping when Mother's Day hurts. We received hundreds of responses and many wonderful suggestions on getting through this difficult time. Here are 15 of them.

1. Create an Online Memorial  

Jane Cassidy, Cerrillos, N.M.: "Grief seems to have a life of its own."

Renee, my daughter (at left), died August 13, 2005, of an accidental drug overdose. Grief seems to have a life of its own, and I know it will always, forever, be with me. I miss my daughter, but with the support of friends and family, I carry on.

Not long after Renee died, I created a website in her honor: www.happybirthdayrenee.com. I felt so compelled to do it, and at the time I didn't realize how many people would eventually read the site: her family, her friends, and people I haven't met. Not only was it a healing process for me, it has helped many others. Her friends have e-mailed with thanks for creating the site, so that they, too, can share in the journal about Renee.

To create a memorial on Beliefnet, click here.


2. Buy Yourself a Special Gift

Anonymous: "Birth mothers are mothers too."

I am a birth mother. Needless to day, Mother's Day is always a confusing and isolated time for me. Being a birth mother means I am not recognized by Hallmark--there aren't any cards anyone could send me to help me get through the dreaded annual day of pain and heartbreak.  To cope, I buy myself a Mother's Day gift, make my own special and wonderful breakfast in bed with flowers. I'll spend the day as I choose. Every year, it is different, as I feel differently toward the subject. Do what feels right for YOU. Buy yourself a special gift, whether it is an outfit, a manicure/pedicure or a slew of scented candles and bath salts/oils. Remember to listen to YOUR inner self and don't let anyone crowd you emotionally. Remember to remember yourself because birth mothers ARE mothers, too.

3. Join a Support Group

Emily Afuola, Newark, N.J.: "I have a son in Afghanistan and a nephew in Iraq."

I have a son in Afghanistan (with me, at left) and a nephew in Iraq. I am also a Blue Star Mother for the State of New Jersey, and the Blue to Gold Liaison for the State of New Jersey, which means that when anyone from the State of NJ dies in the war, I go to the funeral to represent our group. I order the Gold Star Flag, pins and present them to the family at the funeral parlor. I also make condolence books for the families of the fallen heroes.

As of now, I have not heard from my son in 32 days. This is the worst thing that I have ever gone through in my entire life. I pray every day for my son, nephew, and all of our beloved military. I also belong to other military support groups where there are families going through the same thing. We are scared out of our wits, stressed to the max, afraid to answer the doorbell or the phone because you [think] it just might be your [child] this time. We pick each other up when we feel like it is too much, we laugh, cry, and always pray.


To find a support group on Beliefnet, click here.

4. Participate in Motherless Daughters Day

Kristie Chapman Fisher, Sherman Oaks, Calif.: "It's the day before Mother's Day"

I’ve been a Motherless Daughter (MD) since the sudden death of my mother (holding me as a baby, at left) the day before high school graduation. Motherless Daughter’s Day (MDD) is the best way to make it through Mother’s Day; it’s the day before Mother’s Day, and allows us to honor our mothers and grieve so that on Mother’s Day we can be available for our children, in-laws, step-parents, etc.

MDD is held in most cities (or create your own) outside in nature. Activities may include speakers on grief, speaking our mother’s name, looking at pictures, writing your mom a letter, lighting a candle, listening to music, and other activities that bring healing. 

5. Keep Mom's Memory Alive

Joanne Anello, Stroudsburg, Pa.: "We always talk about the things she's done."

I lost my mother, Helen (at left), three months ago after a short battle with stage-IV cancer. She was 56 years old. My mother and I were very close. To make it easier for my family and me to cope with her passing, we always talk about the things she's done. We look at her pictures all the time and speak of her with high dignity. I am currently planning a memorial dedicated to her with proceeds going to cancer foundations.

The best advice I can give to others who have lost someone is to keep their loved ones' memories alive for as long as they can. They may be gone but never forgotten. 

6. Plant a Tree in Her Honor

Lisa: "I feel that my tree is an extension of my mother."

My mother passed away in 2004, and I still feel as if a piece of me has been separated from my inner soul.

My five sisters and I have all brought a plant or tree that we've planted in our yards in remembrance of her. We often refer to our living plants and trees as if they were mom. We pamper them, speak to them, water and care for them lovingly. I feel that my tree is an extension of my mother and she brings me fruit in the spring, cool air on summer nights and always returns in full bloom after a restful winter.

7. Ask God to Help You Through

Betty Collier, Rogersville, Tenn.: "I lost my son at the age of 25."

Mothers Day is so hard on me. I lost my son (at left) at the age of 25 on April 12, 2002. I have no closure, because the woman that he was married to had him cremated, and I have no gravesite to visit.  It has been so very hard on me, and I got to the point that I was going to commit suicide, because I could not take the pain that was, and still is, in my heart. I have three other children, a girl, and two boys. By the grace of God, I did not manage to do what I had set out to do that day. When I did get back home that day, and back to my right mind, I saw what it had done to [my other son] and I swore to myself, and to him that I would never do that again. I keep my son's photo on the wall in my living room, and look at it a lot.


My advice to all who have lost a child is to pray, and ask GOD to help you through this, because if you don't, you will get to the point that I got to.

To find a prayer on Beliefnet, click here. 

8. Live Their Philosophy

Patricia Meraz, Palmdale, Calif.: "I wake up every day saying 'Good morning, Dustin'."

Mother's day is a difficult time for me. I lost my 11-year-old son three years ago to cancer. I wake up everyday saying "Good Morning Dustin," while I look at his picture. He was an advocate of life. His saying was "Today is a gift, have fun." I do my best to live that philosophy. Although Dustin is not physically here, he is always included in what I do and while Dustin is in heaven now, his memory and wisdom is still here on earth with me. 

9. Spend the Day With Family

Melody McDowall, Junction City, Kan.: "Sharing my pain with my sister was paramount."

I lost my mother, Jeannie (at left), when I was 30 years old, unexpectedly of a failed angioplasty. She died one month after the birth of her first grandchild and three days after my younger sister got married.  Sharing my pain with my sister was paramount during the process of grieving. My friends helped as well, by just being there, just listening, just asking, "What can I help you with?"  My sister and I always spend Mother’s Day together. We do the things we did with her on Mother’s Day. We appreciate the lessons she taught us about how to be good mother, and hopefully we will [pass them on to our own] children. We celebrate the love she gave us. We celebrate her.

10. Reach Out and Volunteer

Jackie Tulli, Colorado Springs, Colo.: "I was adopted and had a pretty good mother."

Mother`s Day is one of those holidays just like any other. I was adopted and had a pretty good mother. After she died, I found my birth mother. After meeting her and getting to know her, I was glad I was adopted. Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas, etc.--when you have any brokenness in your life, they're all the same. I tell myself that this is just a day like any other day, possibly made worse by all the commercialism and advertising connected to each holiday. When you view it as "just a day like any other day," I find it much easier to get through it. There`s so much sadness in our world right now, if you look around, [you'll find] someone else has it a lot worse. Reach out, and get beyond yourself--even if it's just donating money to a charity, or taking a box of clothes to the Goodwill. Look at the beauty around you and you'll forget your own problems. Donate time at a soup kitchen, or buy someone a new pair of shoes. This is how I just get through life, holiday or no holiday.

For more on volunteering, click here. 

11. Send an E-mail to Heaven

Patricia Sauer, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: "I believe [my mother] is still with me as an angel."

By writing and telling someone about my mother, Patricia Jean Sauer--even if no one ever reads it--helps me to remember her. She was an angel and I believe she is still with me as an angel. I sometimes send her e-mail just to talk to her, at Mom@heaven.com. It is very comforting. Sometimes [the e-mail] doesn't even come back as undeliverable! Write your loved ones. It helps [with] the loss. Pray and go out and buy a flower in her memory. Go for a walk and feel her spirit on a beautiful day.

12. Visit a Nursing Home

Janet Goodnight, Johnstown, Pa.: "I lost my mother 3 years ago."

I lost my mother 3 years ago and miss her terribly. As an associate pastor with a ministry for the elderly (nursing homes, shut-ins, hospital patients), I would suggest that anyone missing their mother should visit a nursing home. There are many moms who have children [who live] far away or children nearby who cannot visit or choose not to for one reason or another. So each holiday, I tear myself away from my own self-pity and visit some of these women. Until you do this, you'll never know the joy you receive from it. It's a two-way blessing!

To find a nursing home in your area, click here.

13. Celebrate Your Loved One's Life

Anonymous: "Spiritually, I feel Brianna's presence with me every day."

This Mother's Day will be very hard for me. My daughter Brianna (at left) was killed August 14th, 2005 in a tragic car accident. Every day has been a challenge for me living without her. Brianna Marie (at left) was only 6 years old and the BIGGEST part of my heart and life. Spiritually, I feel her presence with me every day. I lean on close friends and family to help me through every emotional moment in my life. Without them, this upcoming Mothers Day would be unbearable. May 14th, my family will be joining me in celebrating my Mother's Day at Brianna's place of rest. [We will] plant flowers and make her memory live on. On Mother's Day we will spend the day celebrating every moment of her short-lived life. 

14. Wear Something From Those Who Are Gone

Suzanne Marx, Norman, Okla.: "I recall my mother's wonderful smile."

Just weeks after I found I was pregnant with my first child, my mother (at left, with me on my wedding day) was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was her 68th birthday. Despite the doctor's warning that her cancer was the fastest growing kind, she lived to see my baby boy. He was born in May, just seven days before Mother's Day. I will never forget the expression on her face as she reached out for my son--the tears just streamed down her face. I recall her wonderful smile.

Each Mother's Day marks another year that I ache for her. As usual, I think "How will I make it through this Mother's Day?" Every year the memory of my mother and the legacy she left will get me through it. On her passing, my mother left me a silver locket given to her by her mother. It says, "A mother's love is the heart of a happy home." Every Mother's Day, as I thank God for my two beautiful children, I wear that locket in my mother's honor, and I pray I am the kind of selfless mother that she was. There is comfort in knowing my mother still lives at home in my heart. She lives in me and in my two beautiful children. My son, daughter, and I, are a heroine's legacy. 

15. Be Sensitive to Those Coping With Infertility

Anonymous: "What about those of us who have never been able to conceive?"

My five siblings have all been blessed to create and see themselves in their children, I have not been. I wrestle with this every day of my life. "Why not me, Lord?" Mother Day advertisements are everywhere and well wishes for all the mothers. I'm usually asked why I don't have any children, and [told] what a great mother I'd be. I even shy away from church service this day, as it is so beautifully devoted to all the mothers. But what about those of us, [who through] no choice of our own, have never been able to conceive?

Editor's Note: Infertility expert Marlo Schalefsky gives this suggestion in a Beliefnet interview: "Our job is just to be there for people [who are infertile]--to pray for them, remember them with notes or little cards on difficult days like Mother's Day, understand that it hurts to yearn for a child and not have one. Be someone they can come to and vent frustrations and hurt."

To create a prayer circle on Beliefnet, click here.