I Lost My Mom, and Here's How You Can Comfort Others Grieving on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a beautiful holiday, but for me and so many others, it's a day full of heartache. For those of us who never grew up with a mom, lost our moms, or are even estranged from our moms, it can be a day that's filled with tears, longing, and awkward conversations. All in all, it's very emotionally draining.

Because a lot of people are sensitive to things on Mother's Day, that means a lot of the people around them might not be sure how to act or what to say. And it can be extremely hard for those that are hurting to ask for support. So, if you know someone who may be struggling this Mother's Day for whatever reason, here are five tips to make them feel a little extra love.

  1. Do the dirty work for them. When I first entered my relationship my significant other, he graciously invited me to his grandmother's house for Mother's Day. While I tried my best to say yes, I ultimately called him crying and said I couldn't do it. He was extremely understanding and politely asked if he could tell his family why I wasn't coming (my mother died when I was 14). I was never asked about it, but I also never had to bring it up to explain anything. It took a lot of pressure off me by giving everyone a heads up and avoided a huge amount of triggering questions. If you're bringing someone without a mom around for Mother's Day, ask them if they would want you to alert everyone beforehand so they don't have to feel uncomfortable.
  2. Have an out. I've needed to "go on a walk" on almost every major holiday since my mom passed away just to get some air and be alone, and having people around me who understand this is crucial. Being able to quietly ask to step away and have someone else handle all the questions for me is fantastic. I get the ability to cry if I need to, and I don't feel like I'm being a pain. Have a code word so you know when your loved one has had too much of the day.
  3. Offer to talk. If you can't be with your loved one all day, send a text. Whether that's a "thinking of you" or "call me whenever you need me," both can be lifesavers to people who tend to isolate themselves. We can feel really burdensome by mourning on this day, and knowing someone is thinking about us can help us get through it.
  4. Let them cry. It may be uncomfortable for you to witness, but crying is part of grief. Sometimes we'll need to excuse ourselves for a moment to have a little cry, and you should let that happen. If you can, feel free to come by after a few minutes to check in on us, but don't say "Oh, don't cry." Crying is OK, and it honestly just feels good sometimes.
  5. Do something extra. My partner offers to take me to a meaningful spot on holidays or makes an effort to kiss my forehead a little extra, but you don't even have to do that. Whether you get someone a bouquet of flowers, send them a funny meme, or even give them a slice of leftover pie or cake, just do something to remind them that they aren't alone and you've got their back.

Ultimately, you don't have to do much, but remember those of us who maybe aren't able to be happy on Mother's Day. Of course you don't need to drop your own joy, but have some compassion, and give some extra love to someone who may need it.