Mother’s Day isn’t always about foil-embossed greeting cards and bright flowers. For some, it’s a reminder of that their mom is no longer here. Whether it has been a month or a decade since they passed, some sadness is likely to creep into Mother’s Day every year.
In April and May, the triggers are everywhere. Grocery stores have bouquets of flowers lined up at the front door. Retailers put out special displays with candles and perfumes. Emails remind us not to forget our mothers, often with the tease of free shipping or gift wrapping.
The best way to help someone grieve on Mother’s Day is to put yourself in their shoes—show empathy for what can be a difficult day for sons and daughters. After a year of a pandemic, empathy is something we’re seeing more of.
If you are friend or family to someone who has lost a mom, you might be wondering what you can do. Here are some ways to help someone through what can be a difficult and emotional day.
- Mail a sympathy card on Mother’s Day
- I know this holiday can be tough. I’m thinking of you
- May memories of your mother comfort you today
- Remembering your mother on Mother’s Day
- May your mother’s love surround you and bring you peace today
- The love between a mother and her child lasts forever
- A mother’s love never leaves your heart
- Call or send a text
- Buy her a unique gift
from Simon LeBlanc as well as the spring collection from Urban Stems. Or check out some other ideas that are alternatives to flowers.
- Plan an activity
This one takes a little effort, but it’s worth it. You can ask your friend if he or she would like to get together on or around Mother’s Day to honor their mom. This could be a simple as going for a spring walk and picking some wildflowers along the way. Lunch outdoors in the fresh air is also nice, perhaps at a restaurant their mom frequented. If you don’t like close by, try a teleparty, where you can watch a Netflix movie (let them pick it!) with a friend and chat with each other, or schedule a glass of wine over Zoom.
One other thing to consider: Mother’s Day can also be a difficult day for your loved one whose mothers are still alive, but are purposely absent from their life. Maybe this is due to family toxicity or a traumatic event that has caused estrangement. If this is the case, you can still acknowledge the day with a card or call; just try to take guidance from your friend about how they prefer to address the situation.
Whatever you decide to do, try to make your sentiment an annual occasion. Your friend will appreciate the support and friendship on what can be a not-so-happy day.
Dr. DeGroot is a professor of applied communication studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She works with Wishbar to craft grief messages.