Celebrating holidays after loss can be difficult. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be especially difficult as it celebrates the parenting relationship that we shared and have lost.
The first Mother’s day can be the most challenging as it is totally different now. You are now both Mother and Father. Parenting as a widow is hard. You are struggling with grief and with all of the duties that still must be done. It can be a real struggle to just show up. Now, there is a day that reminds you of the one who helped make you a mother or a parent. You are alone doing it all. It can be overwhelming at times. Know that’s normal to feel that way.
We have been down that road and can relate to parenting as a widow struggle. It is a real struggle no matter if the children are small, teenagers, or fully grown. It is hard work! There are the struggles of keeping it together, keeping the bills paid, food on the table and some semblance of family life.
Remember – While you may be alone doing this parenting gig, you are doing it! You are amazing. You are moving on. You are breathing. Celebrate that!
As we continue to say, self care is vital. Mother’s Day is no different. Even if it is just sleeping in or spending a few extra minutes in the shower, take care of you. If others are willing to celebrate you, let them. You deserve it. If not, celebrate on your own in a way you choose.
Taking care of you ideas:
- What self care looks like – for more free and inexpensive ideas
- Sleep in
- Eat the food you like
- Listen to your music
- Watch a movie
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
- Go get your nails or hair done
- Get a massage or facial
- Take a bubble bath
- Walk in nature
- Exercise, do yoga
- Buy yourself some flowers or work in the garden
- Buy yourself a present or something you’ve been wanting for a while
- Do whatever makes you smile and feel good
Some thoughts from our experiences without our children’s fathers on Mothers Days:
- You aren’t going to screw up your kids.
- Choose how you want to spend the day – you get to do this for you.
- Love your kids where they are at in their grief.
- You’re doing the best you can.
- You are all going to get through it –together, as a family.
- This day may look a lot different than your original plan.
- Celebrate anyway.
- You are going to be fine.
- Sometimes good and sometimes not so much – that’s normal.
- Savor the little moments…the kids grow up way too quickly.
- The kids are struggling as well and they are trying to accept the new way of things just as you are.
- Let others help and celebrate you.
- If you need help, ask for it. If other’s offer, accept it if it feels right for you.
- Feel how you feel and don’t try to stuff it.
Jeni’s Mother’s Day Experiences
Celebrating Mother’s Day with Bob and the kids was wonderful. After many years of just being a couple, we had become parents through adoption. Bob made sure there was flowers, cards and a dinner for Mother’s Day we all had together. It was the only Mother’s Day that we would celebrate as a family for it was the following November that he passed. Now, I had to be both Mother and Father and Mother’s day was going to be just me and the kids.
Honestly, I don’t remember the first one after Bob died. I think I was still in a haze.I remember over the years trying to make the day more about being a family, regardless of what had happened, as opposed to celebrating me. I was just trying to get through the day to day.
Over the years, there have been cards, dinners, etc. and it has been nice. I have since become not only mom but Mamaw (the southern term for grandma) as well. Sometimes I feel lost between the Great Grandma, Grandma and mom roles that now surround me. I struggle with celebrating others (my mom and my kids who are now moms) and wishing that I were celebrated. However, nothing beats being handed scribbles from my grandkids that they tell me say, I love you Mamaw. I love the hugs and kisses that come from them and that is celebration enough for me.
Teresa’s Mother’s Day Experiences
Mother’s day was always with my mom and me. Dad and Kris would BBQ out surf and turf of some sort. The kids would help out as they could and it was a day of relaxation. My first Mother’s day, I was struggling to be a Mom. One of my dear friends and her sons got together with my two sons and we all went out for an Italian lunch after church. She then dragged me to get a pedicure so I’d have pretty feet for a treat. I was thankful and felt blessed. I was glad for the time and just being taken care of. Now, it’s different as the boys have grown and are not always here to celebrate. I cherish my time with my boys and the grands when I get to see them or talk to them.
Widow parenting is a new ball game in itself and it is not a role we were expecting as a married couple. However, events have changed and we now have this new unwelcomed role in our life. You are breathing and moving forward. You can do this. Celebrate that you are making it minute by minute and day by day. Love them where they are at (best advice Teresa ever got). You are doing the best you can. You are all going to get through it –together, as a family. You are going to be fine. Celebrate the little victories and enjoy every moment that you can. They grow up way too quickly.
Even when you have crossed over to being a grandmother, the realization that your loved one is not sharing these experiences with you can be difficult. Sharing their stories with the littles can help in the process. Take the time to celebrate the love you had and what you have now.
If you are alone on this day, take some time for you. Celebrate the wonderful person that you are.
If you’re a widow/widower or recently lost your mother know you aren’t alone. Cherish the memories and the joys that you shared together.
If you are a mother, we wish you a blessed and special day with your children and/or grandchildren.
In this series, we’re writing about the struggles grief brings us. We have some ideas and topics. We’d love to hear what YOU would like us to write about or discuss. Do you have a struggle story you’d like to share?
Please contact us and let us know of any particular grief struggles or topics you’d like us to explore. We appreciate your support and input.
Peace & blessings,
Teresa & Jeni
PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss
Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.