For weeks Mother’s Day messages have been everywhere. Advertisements for brunch and luncheon specials, Hallmark card scenarios, fine jewelry and all kinds of retail opportunities from clothing to flowers highlighting moms and Mother’s Day.
And, every time I see one of these promotional pieces I feel a pinch inside my own heart. My mother has been gone for 10 years. This is my 10th Mother’s Day without her. Although it has gotten easier living without mom, there are still days when the sorrow is as sharp and raw as that first Mother’s Day.
My mother died in January. Some of her very best friends were in Florida for the winter and could not get back to Indiana for her funeral service. They were devastated with us. My father had passed away just two short years earlier. And my mother’s death came quickly on the heels of a stage IV cancer diagnosis. Both were among the first of their peer group to die. Everyone they knew was reeling from this loss.
And so were my sisters and me. It just didn’t seem real to us.
Among mom’s best friends were a couple with which she’d gone to elementary school. Because they couldn’t get home from Florida, they immediately began planning a Mother’s Day getaway for all of us – their grown kids, my sisters and me. They invited us right away…to a Mother’s Day weekend at the lake.
It felt dear to be invited to go somewhere we’d never been for that first Mother’s Day weekend. To be surrounded by family who knew all of us and more importantly, Mom and Dad. Although the weekend would be challenging, we knew we would be held with love.
And we were. Abundant meals were prepared, wine and coffee poured out with stories of our parents. Laughter and tears mingled together. More stories and reminiscences occurred and love happened. Even though my sisters and I were terribly numb….and it felt awkwardly unfamiliar to be away on Mother’s Day, it felt very loving to be held this way. The love in this weekend was bigger than all of our sorrow.
Looking back it wasn’t the getaway that was the most important thing. It was that we were surrounded by love. We were surrounded by people who chose to be present with us on this difficult first holiday without our mom.
It wasn’t the words or stories, it wasn’t the yummy food, and it wasn’t even the getaway. It was their very presence with us. They came into the pain of our loss and stayed. They showed up. They watched movies with us. Talked and listened. Walked the woods or the streets of the neighborhood where we stayed. They helped by just being there. They saw in advance that Mother’s Day was going to be hard and they reached out to us with their hearts.
Perhaps you know of someone spending their first Mother’s Day without their mother. You don’t have to plan a weekend getaway…and you can support them in their loss by being present. Presence might look like a shared note or story, a phone call or text message, an email. It might be a cake or batch of cookies. It might be an offer to grocery shop or help with cleaning or cutting the grass. Even if you didn’t know the person’s mother…your friend will be blessed by a kind word or deed. Just knowing that someone is thinking of you in the journey of loss – especially on such vastly celebrated holidays such as Mother’s Day – can help someone through a moment or the day.
Deb Buehler is a certified funeral celebrant, certified creative grief coach and professional writer. She works virtually and in-person with individuals and families as they tell their stories of grief and loss. Deb co-authored The Hollowed Heart; Inspiration for Women Awakening from Grief and Loss. You can learn more about Deb and her services at www.growingbeyondgrief.com or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org