Love & Loss: Mother’s Day When You Are Grieving

Like many holidays, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day when you are grieving. And in my experience it changes with each passing year after a loss. Be ready for your feelings, be kind to yourself, and be sure to practice self-care any way you need.

It has been more than 10 years since my mother died, and we were estranged for over a year when she passed away. To say my grief process has been long and complicated would be an understatement. I was only 17 when she died, and in the years since I’ve moved through grief in various ways and become a mother myself.

The most difficult part of grief for me has been when it creeps in unexpectedly. A complicated, often taboo subject, it is difficult to navigate alone. I have found that having a plan has helped me manage my feelings and get through days that I can expect to be more difficult, like Mother’s Day.

The first year after my mother died, I didn’t realize that grief would come in waves and sneak up on me. I didn’t plan for Mother’s Day, and I was caught off guard when I found myself in heavy mourning all over again on the day. I learned that day through lots of tears to not let that happen again.

By the fifth year, I was ready. I created a routine. I was prepared with simple, healthy food, a cleared schedule, a book to journal in and another to read, and a candle to light as a way to remember her. But I was surprised again. Pleasantly surprised, to not be overwhelmed by tidal waves of grief. The day came and went. That's when I knew that I was finally through it. Not that I will never experience sadness when I think of my mom, but that I can think of her and not be swallowed up by the sadness.

Having a ritual gives you space to feel your feelings, time, and grace. If it turns out you don’t need it that is ok, but it is better to be prepared than surprised by your feelings.

Things to try in your ritual:

Journal

It doesn’t matter if its just a few notes in an old notebook, or you keep a beautiful and perfectly decorated bullet journal. Writing down feelings is a wonderful way of letting them out. Write down a favorite memory. Write a letter to your mom. Write a letter to your past or future self. Give yourself space and ink to let it out.

Find the perfect bag for all your journaling supplies.

Read

Reading whether for pleasure or processing grief is a wonderful activity to bring yourself some peace when you are grieving. If you are looking for books to help you with the loss of your mother, I recommend:

  • Letters from Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman
  • Brene Brown, honestly any of her work
  • If you had a complicated relationship with your mother, you might also enjoy Gabor Mate’s work, his book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, in particular helped me gain perspective on my mom’s life and struggles with addiction

Watch a Movie

Maybe something comforting and cheerful from your childhood. Maybe something sad that feels good to ugly-cry to. For me, my comfort movie is My Neighbor Totoro, and I love to get comfy with a snack and relax with this movie.

Eat a favorite food

During hard times for me that's something healthy but easy, like a veggie sub. If I’m feeling more sentimental, I make a seafood chowder, which is a food that reminds me of happy times with my mom.

Make a playlist

Maybe its cheerful to help you keep your spirits up and distracted. Maybe it is sad, if you need to sink into your feelings.

Whatever your ritual, prepare it ahead of time and make it personal to you. Light a candle, create something, talk about it. Take time to acknowledge the person you are grieving. Say their name.

Motherhood & Moving Forward

When I became a mom myself, my experience of Mother’s Day changed again, but I still dread the day. As wonderful as it is to enjoy celebrating with my own young family, I’m not sure the day will ever come without a sting. It is a reminder of what is missing in my life. But I try to focus on the positive; acknowledge my sadness and move forward. Hugging my girls tight and wishing my own mother had had the chance to meet them.

When you are grieving on Mother’s Day, feelings of love and loss become messy and tangled and it can be hard to tell one from the other. The key is to acknowledge all your feelings but not let them take over completely.

Wishing all of those who are grieving this Mother’s Day joy and peace. Supporting each other during times of grief is so important.

What is a ritual you use to help with your grief? What do you miss most about the person you are grieving? Tell us in the comments down below.


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.


Self-Care: How to Fill Your Cup in Simple Ways

Before I had kids, I taught kindergarten. It was exhausting but at the end of the day I got to go home to my peace and quiet, self-care seemed easy.

Photographer: Nathan Dumlao | Source: Unsplash

‘Filling up my cup’ was easy because nobody else needed me.

I foolishly thought that teaching had somewhat prepared me for children. I was wrong. So so so wrong.

Motherhood, for me, has been all consuming. I have chosen to parent my children in a what is considered “attachment parenting.” I cannot even imagine parenting any other way but some days I find myself guiltily longing for that peace and quiet. My second baby has taught me that while parenting is hard, it is so so important that we prioritize ourselves too.

How can we be good parents when we have nothing left to give? We can’t.
We get frustrated more quickly, we lose our temper more often, we long for that peace and quiet more intensely. I have found a few ways to fill my cups in some quick and easy ways that allow me to be the best parent possible to my children.

Momma’s support your future
Photographer: Alex Pasarelu | Source: Unsplash

1. Start the Day with Self-Care: Coffee/Tea Time

This starts my day and I try to set myself up each morning for success. If I get to have hot coffee or tea, my day is infinitely better. I don't know why. I don't make the rules. It just works.

Too early for a Guinness
Photographer: Clay Banks | Source: Unsplash

So, every night, I set up an activity for my kids so that as soon as they wake up, they have something to do while I enjoy my coffee. It is the single best thing I do for myself.

Being confined for the summer in a remote cottage, all that's left to do is drawing, crafting, an dpainting rocks.
Photographer: Sigmund | Source: Unsplash

Some of my favorite activities are “The Floor is Lava” where I throw some pillows on the floor or some precut paper circles on a rug and tell my kids they can only stand on those. They jump from pillow to pillow or circle to circle and think it is hilarious. It gets them moving without much effort from me.

It was a normal Saturday morning at our house, and I pulled out my camera to document the happenings of our morning. My middle daughter put on some music and started dancing. The morning sun was shining through the windows beautifully as I caught her in mid twirl.
Photographer: Laura Fuhrman | Source: Unsplash

That is a win/win in my book.

2. Go on a walk/run:

Sometimes my kids just need fresh air. Heck, sometimes I need fresh air.

Sun rays beating down on mother and daughter walking in forest
Photographer: James Wheeler | Source: Unsplash

Some days I don't really feel like I can chase my kids as they run in opposite directions so I throw them in their stroller or wagon, give them snacks and put a bunch more under the seat/in the basket and just go. My kids have gone out in pajamas, and in just diapers, and in some really questionable outfits, but it works.

Fresh air and snacks relax them. I get a few minutes to not be touched or called upon and just get to walk. I usually put an ear bud in and listen to my favorite True Crime podcast. Other times, I call a friend to just talk and vent. A 10 minute walk can be enough some days to fill my cup, other days it takes an hour.

A girl pushing her baby in a stroller.
Photographer: Michael Kilcoyne | Source: Unsplash

3. Go on a drive: A Change of Scene for Self-Care

I won’t lie. This is my favorite one. I have it down to a science. I have a bunch of snacks and activities in my car ready at all times. I also keep water cups in there and diapers/underwear so I can just grab my own water to fill theirs and go.

Some days I drive through a coffee shop and get myself a nice treat and water. Some days I just drive around and listen to my music or my True Crime Podcasts. On good days, my kids take a nap and I get to chill with my coffee and my podcast.

Coffee
Photographer: Hussain Alolama | Source: Unsplash

4. Read a book while your kids play:

I love to read. I have loved reading since I was a young child and parenting has made it so difficult to find time for my reading. I have started prioritizing it and even a few pages make me into a new person and an overall better parent. As a bonus, my kids see me reading and also want to read sometimes so it ends up being a win-win.

My heart
Photographer: Iana Dmytrenko | Source: Unsplash

I know these all sound a little too perfect. Not all days go super well. Some days I have to take my kids into the car kicking and screaming because I so desperately need that time. Other days, I turn on the TV just to get those 5 minutes of peace and hot coffee. Parenting is a 24/7 job for me and I have learned one thing: I cannot be a good parent if I do not take care of myself.

There is no shame in choosing you. A stroller, TV, the car won’t ruin your child’s life but it can change your entire day. Your day matters. Enjoy those small moments because you deserve them. You are important, too.


About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.


What are some ways you fill your cup? How do you keep your kids entertained? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

Practical Advice For A Happy Maternity Leave During COVID-19

COVID-19 wasn’t around for my pregnancy. This was my first baby; I was really looking forward to having him, having visitors and attending those parenting classes! I couldn’t wait. I ended up having an emergency C-section and had to be really careful while I healed. It was hard enough being a first time mom and now I had to heal from a C-section too. Eeek.

Finally I was healed and able to get around comfortably and then BAM- COVID.
EVERYTHING STOPPED.

Changing Expectations: Maternity Leave & Covid-19

No Visitors, No Parenting Classes, and no family coming to help.
(We live away from family so we were anticipating a lot of visitors.)
And now nothing. NOTHING. I felt on my own and alone.

When they say ‘It takes a village’, it’s because it does! My village couldn’t come and help. I felt completely HELPLESS. But after realizing that now I had all of this time to bond with my child and I didn’t have to share him with anyone except my husband… I thought ‘Well… maybe this will be ok!’ And you know what, it was. Sure, some of the days I probably had more tears than my baby did but looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Activity Ideas for Maternity Leave during Covid-19

Of course I had to get a little more creative on things to do to entertain us and to prevent the walls of my house from closing in on us.

Activities with Baby:

Walks – so many walks! And when it was too cold for a walk we did ice skating. My husband would bundle our little guy up, clip him into a sled and pull him on the ice- he loved it.
Water play on the kitchen floor.
Sensory play with colorful noodles! (He LOVED it!)
We had dance parties.
We read a lot of books.
Peek-a-boo.
A lot of sitting on the floor and helping him play with his toys, did some of that include rolling a ball and playing fetch with my child? Yes. Yes it did.

Activities with Your Partner:

I did a lot more baking!!
I became more knowledgeable about photography and took A LOT of pictures –(Lil Helper obsessed? I think so! Did you know there is an exclusive Lil Helper group for Ambassadors who love photography? Check out the Unsnapped Group for more info!)
We started some woodworking and made toys for our son after he had gone to bed. (This benefited us by giving us something to do AND helping us to provide gifts for his first birthday).

We did as much as we could to try to stay away from the TV and entertain ourselves in other ways.

But let’s be real, I totally did binge watch Tiger King.

Finding Your Village in Isolation

It was hard being on maternity leave during COVID but there were still parenting resources available. The Lil Helper family helped me any time I had a parenting question. By anytime, I literally mean ANY time… if I was up in the middle of the night with a fussy babe and a question .. someone on Unsnapped was also awake.

It’s been a year now since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a year no one will forget.

If you are having your maternity leave during this time you may not have that village you thought you would but you are strong and you’ve got this! Trying to find activities to entertain yourself is key. And when you need a virtual shoulder to cry on, your Lil Helper family will always be there.


About the Author

Ashley is a first time mom who lives in Saskatchewan. When she has free time she loves to bake -her go to is banana bread. She randomly stumbled across Lil Helper when looking for an AI2 style diaper and is so grateful she found them and the Unsnapped community that came with them.