Missing Mom on Mother’s Day

A man comforts his wife as they sit together on a park bench
“While we know our mother is gone, we still have a relationship with her.”

Just as Mother’s Day elicits emotions of joy and gratitude for some people, it can serve as a source of loss and grief for those whose mothers or mother figures are no longer alive.

“When someone doesn’t have a mother and is grieving, Mother’s Day can bring up the pain, almost as a reminder that it’s been a year or 10 years or 20 years or even 50 years since she’s been gone,” says Robin Fiorelli, director of bereavement and volunteer services for VITAS.

“My mother was my best friend. And even though she lived in Chicago and I’m in Atlanta, we talked every day,” says Carla Kalip, whose mother died in 2001. “She was my hero and ‘she-ro,’ never failing to let me know she loved me unconditionally.”

Many VITAS Healthcare locations hold Mother’s Day events as part of the bereavement services we provide to patients’ families. Since 2007, these events have included the “Missing Our Mothers, Daughters Remember” program, which recognizes the unique bond between mothers and daughters. 

Bringing New Meaning to Mother's Day

One of the best ways to infuse Mother’s Day with new meaning, Fiorelli advises, is to expand the definition of “mother” to include women who have served as mother figures— grandmothers, aunts, cousins, mentors, friends, teachers, adoptive mothers, anyone who has been nurturing in positive ways. 

“It can be really healing on Mother’s Day to honor the person who was motherly to you, someone who was protective and had your back,” Fiorelli says. “While we know our mother is gone, we still have a relationship with her, based on memories, a shared history and the fact that we can still feel her presence and support.”

Other coping tips include:

  • Tell stories or share memories of Mom with others
  • Create special crafts, photo albums or scraps to remember Mom
  • Cook or share Mom’s special recipes 
  • Write a letter to Mom, or journal about her
  • Meditate as you “take a walk” with Mom or visit her grave
  • Read stories or poetry about mothers
  • Donate to a charity or volunteer in her honor
  • Find closure for unresolved issues by attending a grief support group

Find VITAS groups, classes and events near you.

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