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Coping with Grief on mothers day

Psychological therapist, counsellor and author with 25+ years’ experience, and a specialist in toxic relationships including domestic violence, narcissism and co-dependency, Michael Padraig Acton, explains why lockdown has exacerbated levels of domestic violence, what we might expect to happen as this third lockdown continues, and offers expert advice to help victims escape domestic violence. His new book, Power of You: Learning How To Leave (A Practical Guide to Stepping Away from Toxic Narcissistic Relationships) is due for release on 1st July 2021.

Michael joined us here at HOI with his expertise to help anyone who may have suffered a loss of a parent, especially on a day that is dedicated to family, such as Mothers day.

How to cope with feelings of grief on Mother’s Day

As Mother’s Day rolls along one more time, we see all the pictures and advertisements featuring mums of all different shapes, sizes and ages accepting flowers and being celebrated by their children and this may leave a big, lonely hole when we have lost a parent.

Where the relationship between mother and child was healthy enough, it is worthwhile going over to Motherless Daughters: Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman to understand why. I have adapted the quote to resonate with all children, irrespective of gender:

The mother’s loss also means the loss of the consistent supportive family system that once supplied us with a secure home base. It is then important that we develop our self-confidence and self-esteem through alternate means.

Without a mother or a mother figure to guide us, we also have to develop and enhance a self-image of ourselves.

But it’s not just about mothers. In traditional family systems, the research shows that it is the mother who usually provides this secure home base. However, we now have a plethora of different family systems (single parents, same sex couples, trans couples, etc.) and each has to find the balance between nurture and discipline. By doing this, they are creating a holding for the children. As a single parent to my daughter, I had to find this balance and be the mother and father figure.

So, losing any parent, when it comes up to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, means that we have to take stock of where we are, what the loss means to us individually and how we can do something to nurture ourselves during that time.

Don’t feel that you can’t celebrate your mother because she’s passed. On the contrary, it’s important that we grieve and celebrate her in a personal rather than a traditional way.

This could be going to sit on their favourite bench in a park. It could be sowing a seed so that you and others can enjoy what you’ve grown every year. It could be that you cook a meal that your mother loved. Rather than dread the occasion, think of something nice that you could do every year.

The important message is that grief, although it really, really hurts, especially if we’re having a hard time in our lives now, can also be made to be comforting. To remember fondly all the good times and celebrate those.

Where the relationship was dysfunctional and Mother’s Day brings up other feelings for you, it’s good to get professional support to work that out because the only person that anger or rage hurts is you. It doesn’t hurt the mother who has passed or other people who may have offended you. The only person it destroys is you. With professional help, people know how to get those demons out of you.

Remember laughter, optimism and the understanding that ‘this too shall pass’ are important to hold on to.

Artwork by Karis Simms