How to deal with loss on Mother’s Day

There can be a lot of pressure to feel happy and enjoy society’s big, annual, family events, with Mother’s Day being no exception. But for many, Mother’s Day can be a sad and lonely time. For those who have lost their mum, have had a relationship breakdown or perhaps never knew her, Mother’s day acts a stark reminder of what is missing.

The feeling of loss can also be excruciating for parents who have lost children or who are unable to have a family. Whilst it may never be a day that brings joy, it can be a day that becomes manageable by implementing these simple guidelines.

“Remember you will not be on your own, many people will be going through the same as you.” Dr Caroline Harris, our in-house psychologist

Feeling Sad is Allowed

Faking happiness is a coping strategy that many people adopt but actually allowing yourself to feel that sense of loss is ok and healthy. It’s when you ignore or block out emotions that they become destructive.

We often try to hide our negative emotions from loved ones as a way of protecting them when in actual fact; we aren’t protecting them or ourselves. Being open and honest about how we feel is a step towards healing and an opportunity to deepen our relationships.

It’s important to recognise that just because you’re being told that Mother’s Day is a happy day, it doesn’t have to be. It can be a totally ordinary day or a day that is sad. But it is just that, a day.

“Times of national or international celebration have their own added pressures as being sad is even more stigmatised, especially those events which stem from family relationships.” Dr Caroline Harris

Look After You

We all know that getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet are the cornerstones of good mental and physical health. However, looking after yourself can be really difficult when you are experiencing low mood and as a result, lacking in motivation.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve had a late night or eaten junk food but just try to focus on improving on yesterday. It may be that today, you walk around the block, or substitute a cup of coffee for a glass of water. That’s a huge victory and an act of self-care that your body and mind will thank you for. Think of all these basics as taking doses of medicine that will have long-term benefits.

“Self-care is often the first thing to go when mood drops or anxiety levels rise. It’s important to give yourself permission to self-care and even better make sure it is in place before these events occur.” Dr Caroline Harris

Reach Out

The days of stoicism and a stiff upper lip are gone. There is no shame in reaching out if things are beginning to feel overwhelming. If talking to friends and family isn’t enough, there are lots of friendly, professional support services available to help. We are guilty of being harder on ourselves than we would be on those around us. Think about what advice you would you give your friend if they felt how you do. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. If anything, being honest is the bravest thing you can do.

  • NHS – Your doctor can prescribe medication where appropriate, social prescription and talking therapies. NHS.net is also a useful tool providing recommended support services and online resources.
  • Cruse – Experts in bereavement, Cruse offer face-to-face, online and telephone support.
  • Samaritans – Call for support on any topic. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Stigma is a massive issue which prevents people from reaching out. However, people often find when they start opening up others start to share similar experiences.” Dr Caroline Harris

Want more help?

For most of us, a loss is an unavoidable part of life – feelings of grief, shock, anger and even guilt are all natural. While it is normal to feel sad or unsettled over a loss, but there is a risk of falling into depression if your grief is particularly complicated or goes on for too long.

Our Managing Loss & Major Life Change learning module will help you acknowledge your sadness and deal with the pressure of entering a new chapter in life.