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Postcard to My Mom: Wish You Were Here

Six Ways To Deal With Mother’s Day When Mom Is Gone

Mother’s Day can be rough on those of us who can’t take our mothers to brunch or pick up the phone to wish them a good day. Remembering who they were before they went beyond our reach; imagining what they would say to us now if they were within hugging distance, is bittersweet.

My Mom died eight years ago. It still doesn’t seem possible.

The death of a mother is like nothing else. The bond we have to her is like nothing else. We can be three or eighty when we lose our Moms it doesn’t matter. The devastation is deep and the hollow sense of loss never completely goes away.

My Mom was no saint. If she wears a halo now it’s propped up by little devil’s horns. She was frustrating, moody, beautiful and charming. I hated her when she gave me the cold silent treatment and adored her when she beamed her mega watt smile my way. She was sharp as a whip, read Jean Paul Sartre in French for fun and loyally watched the Guiding Light, her favorite soap opera, daily. She was eccentric and down to earth; had difficult episodes of depression and was a tenacious optimist. I miss her.

Mother’s Day has its place. It was created to honor mothers who had lost their sons during the Civil War, the ultimate sacrifice for their country. God knows mothers everywhere deserve a holiday.

But for us whose mothers are gone, how do we get through this holiday that highlights our loss? Here are six suggestions:

1. Do something that will honor or please her. Preparing and serving some of Mom’s favorites foods is what I like to do.

2. Call or be with someone who remembers and may be missing her too. You can bet my sisters and I will be calling each other to share memories.

3. Write your Mom a little Mother’s Day note or postcard. Catch her up on your life. Try to focus on the life part not death.

4. Let others pamper you a bit, or pamper yourself. If you’re a Mom, enjoy your kids’ attention. If you’re not, enjoy a masseuse’s attention.

5. Avoid restaurants. The restaurants are packed with families celebrating Mother’s Day. You don’t have to expose yourself if doing so is stressful. There are alternatives: Your family can get terrific take out, organize a barbecue in a park, let them cook for you at home.

6. Tell your kids stories about their grandmother. My kids and I will remember how she loved to do magic tricks for them and how she loved to laugh.

Even though your Mom is gone your love for her, and hers for you, is not. That is worth celebrating.

At her memorial service a family friend remembered how it tickled my Mom to tell this silly joke:

“There was an old couple who loved each other so much they swore that whoever died first would try to reach the other from the beyond. Harry died first and June wasn’t surprised one day to hear Harry’s voice call to her. ‘June! June! It’s Harry calling you from the other side!’ ‘Oh, Harry! Tell me how you’re doing? What is it like?’ ‘It’s wonderful June! I play, I eat, I hang out with the girls, I eat, I play, I hang out with the girls. Like that.’ ‘Harry, where are you? What is this wonderful place?’ ‘It’s Minnesota, June. I’m a rabbit in Minnesota!’”

I can just hear my mother’s laughter.

For more on coping with Mother’s Day after your mother’s death:
~ Dealing with Mother’s Day after mother’s death: feelings of sadness
~ How to Celebrate Mother’s Day After Her Death

Postcard to My Mom: Wish You Were Here

Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D.

Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, founder of Explore What’s Next, wife, and mom of two teenagers. Dr. Aletta is a writer whose articles have been featured on the New York Times Well blog, the Wall Street Journal Online, Parents magazine, NPR and the BBC London Radio. To learn more about Dr. Aletta and Explore What's Next, visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter!

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APA Reference
Aletta, E. (2018). Postcard to My Mom: Wish You Were Here. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 9 May 2009)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.