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Holiday Grief: Remembering my mom on Mother's Day

Holiday Grief: Mother's Day Reminders

In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of the annual mailer reminding you to order those special flowers so they will be shipped on time for Mother’s Day. However, the company that sends the notices doesn’t know that my mother died nearly 12 years ago.

Needless to say, Mother’s Day has been different for me ever since.

 

The first floral reminder

I remember the first year after my mom died when the floral reminder came in the mail. I recall standing in the den sorting through the mail and seeing the vivacious motherly and grandmotherly pictures in the full-color brochure. Within moments I fetched my handkerchief from my back pocket to dab the tears from my eyes. I thought about sending a note to the flower company asking them to take me off their mailing list. After all, one less piece of junk mail would be good for the environment. Wouldn’t that make my momma proud? Her son had finally become a solid citizen - the fact that I was 51 years old at that point, notwithstanding.

That first reminder encouraged me to call my dad and my sisters and brother to talk about mom. So I did, and we did. We talked, we remembered momma, we laughed, we cried. For me, the fond memories mingled with fresh tears in a way that made me feel very connected to my mother, even though I could not see her or touch her in a physical sense. I believe something similar happened for my dad and my siblings in our respective conversations. Openly communicating the range of feelings we had about mom was so normal and natural and healthy.

When the second Mother’s Day came around, I didn’t need a postcard to kick me in the emotional pants to urge me to make contact with my family. Remembering the sweet sadness of the previous year’s Mother’s Day calls, I got on the phone again to my family. It was much the same only a little bit different. Each of us had been adapting to mom’s absence for another year. Each of us was dealing with day-to-day life without Mom while dealing with the emotional reality of it all. That year, I had Mother’s Day Sunday brunch with my Alice, her daughter Claudia, and several friends. When Claudia presented her mom with a card and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, I couldn’t help noticing that one of the young women in our group seemed to turn away. Her name was Moira. I turned to her and asked her what was going on. She told me that it had been years since her mom died and she still missed her, but that she’s always afraid to say anything at these events and ruin everyone else’s joy. I told her that my mom had died about a year and half ago and one thing I’d learned was that wonderful things happen when I tell the truth about my feelings. So I decided to make a toast to honor my mom and hers. I clinked a glass and got everyone’s attention. “Friends, as some of you know, my mother died a year and a half ago. You also might know that Moira’s mom died several years ago. Some of you knew our moms, some of you didn’t. I’d like to propose a toast, To my mom and Moira’s mom, and to all of those people we miss every day, but especially on a special day like today.”

We toasted, and if memory serves, there were no dry eyes at that table. There was a pause as each person went into a personal memory bank and found something of value about someone important to them. And then, as if an invisible switch had been thrown, everybody started telling stories of loved ones who are no longer here. It was funny, it was sweet, it was sad. It was human and connecting. In a way, it was everything that Mother’s Day is supposed to mean.

 

The annual reminder

Every April I still get the annual brochure urging me to send flowers to that longest running special gal in my life. I never did tell them to cancel the mailers. I figure I’ll do something else to make it up to the environment. In the meantime, every cyber flower shop has me on their emailing list, so there’s no way to avoid the notification anyway. So I do the next best thing. I talk about my mom and invite everyone else to talk about the people who have been important in their lives.

 

 Now it’s your turn. Make sure that you keep the memories of your loved ones fresh by sharing them with the people who are important to you. It’s not limited to memories of your mother. It can be anyone you miss. And you don’t have to wait until Mother’s Day to start talking. I imagine that your momma, like mine, would approve.

Comments

i love this article. I lost my mother when I was only 34. It was very unexpected and very hard to grasp. This year near the 1 year anniversary of her death, my sister and I got together with my mothers two best friends for dinner and celebrated her life. We laughed, we cried, we vented, the emotions poured out, it really was healing. I would recommend it to anyone. Moving on, doesn't mean we have to forget or let go of their memory.

Deanna,


We’re delighted to hear from you and that the actions the four of you took were so beneficial for you. We join you in recommending that people make and take the opportunity to communicate openly about the important people who have affected their lives. And we agree wholeheartedly that talking that way, with feelings attached, doesn't make us forget. In fact, we think it enhances our memories of those people we miss.

This article really helped me. My mom perished in a car accident abput a month ago. Since I'm only 15, I imagine many Mother's Day's are in my future, and it's nice to know that it's ok to talk about her with other people who have also lost their mother. So, Thank You!

Thanks for your note. We're more than pleased that you found the article helpful. We'd like to add that we think it's a good idea to talk about your mom with all the important people in your life, not just those who've had a mom die. It's the sharing of your truth that connects you to others, and with that, helps keep you emotionally connected to your mom. From our hearts to yours.

Thinking of you on this mothers day! (;

My first mom died of lung cancer. The last thing I did was get a Mother's Day card, b/c I thought 'It's almost Mother's Day, she COULD hold out a few more weeks.'

Two days after I bought the card she passed away in her sleep.


My second mom, the one who adopted me, died of breast cancer.

I was able to tell my dad to tell her I love her, but she never would have understood it, b/c she was too far gone. So he told me she knows it. Only I'm not sure if she really did, since I was so difficult to raise and had a rocky relationship with her anyway.

My sister is a registered nurse and certified grief counselor. Our mother died in July 2012. Sis frequently sends articles to me and my siblings to help us deal with the palpable absence of Mom in our physical lives. Naturally, this article naturally made me cry but it also made me realize that I am starting to heal. I am going to forward this to my dearest friend whose Mom died a few months before mine. I'm sure it will help her smile and reflect on how blessed we are to have had such wonderful, loving mothers. Thank you.

Hi Karen,


Thanks for your note and thanks also to your sister for her concern in sending helpful articles to you and your sibs. Interesting point about your crying and a sense that you’re starting to heal. The natural feeling and expression of sadness – hopefully without pain – with this Mother’s Day reminder, is a good thing. And we think it’s great that you’re paying the article forward to your friend.

A beautiful, timeless article. Such a nice reminder to reach out to my family and friends this Mother's Day in remembrance of my mother and grandmothers. I will share on FB. Thanks.


With gratitude,

David

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