Mother’s Day can bring up feelings of sadness for some. As a loved one, there are ways you can help ease their pain.

Mother’s Day is intended to be a happy day — a celebratory day filled with ways and words to let moms know how loved and appreciated they are.

But Mother’s Day can bring up feelings of sadness or depression for some.

At least, it does for me.

When I was 3 months pregnant with my first child, my mom passed away from breast cancer. The rest of my pregnancy was filled with ups and downs as I happily anticipated motherhood yet grieved the loss of my mom.

The 14 Mother’s Days since her passing have been filled with a mix of emotions. I’m happy to be celebrated by my two children and to celebrate being their mom — but at the same time, I grieve not having my mom alive to honor.

Dealing with feelings of depression and sadness on Mother’s Day can be difficult, particularly if the person has children or loved ones who want to honor and celebrate with them.

If you know a mom who experiences feelings of depression on Mother’s Day, there are ways you can help lift their spirits.

Language matters

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. We use “women,” “moms,” and “mothers,” in this article, but understand that not all mothers are women, and not all parents identify as moms or dads. All tips in this article can apply to any birthing person(s).

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In addition to grieving a mom who’s no longer alive, there are several reasons that Mother’s Day can bring up sadness and pain for some.

These include:

It’s not surprising if you know a mom living with depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting approximately 280 million people worldwide.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are more likely to have depression than men.

There are certain types of depression that are mostly unique to women. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and postpartum depression (PPD) — a type of depression that occurs during pregnancy and after childbirth — are two examples.

Perimenopausal depression is also typically associated with women, occurring during the transition into menopause.

Women and men can experience depression differently. While some women only have a few symptoms, others can have many. The frequency and severity of the symptoms and how long they last can also vary from person to person.

In the years since my mom passed away, my sister (who is also a mother) and I made it a tradition to spend the morning together at brunch or a spa. This gives us the time and space to be sad and reminisce about our mom in the absence of our own children.

We then head back to our families ready to embrace motherhood with them.

If you’re looking for ways to brighten up a sad Mother’s Day for someone you care about, consider these gifts.

A day to sleep in

Letting moms get good shuteye may be the best gift you could give them. This may be especially the case for new birth parents.

According to a 2021 study, lack of sleep in the first 6 months after having a baby can actually add up to 7 years to the biological age of new mothers.

Letting your loved one wake up on their own time may be the best showing of love you can offer them.

Time away from the kitchen

On Mother’s Day, many moms want to stay out of the kitchen. According to a survey by the online coupon provider RetailMeNot, 40% of moms said they would like a nice dinner out to celebrate.

If dining out isn’t an option, consider ordering in or cooking a special meal filled with love.

IOU for babysitting

Sometimes the best gifts are ones that can be used in the future.

Letting a mom know they can call on you when needed to watch their kids so they can care for themselves, run errands, or do something fun is not only practical but thoughtful in many ways.

A framed picture

One of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received was a lovely picture of my mom kissing my forehead when I was just a few days old.

For my 40th birthday, my sister had this picture put on canvas for me. It sits in the perfect place in my home and cheers me up every time I see it.

Framed pictures of children can also cheer up a mother who’s feeling sad on Mother’s Day. Photo calendars or gifts such as mugs and mouse pads displaying pictures of family, friends, and pets can remind moms how loved and supported they are.

Make a charitable donation

A great way to honor a mom is to make a donation to her favorite charity.

Consider making a donation to any organizations where your mom may have volunteered.

If your mom passed away due to a medical condition such as cancer or heart disease, making a donation to that organization in honor of your mom is also a great idea.

Bake a cake

If your mom had a favorite cake or pie, consider making it on that day and sharing it with family, friends, or a neighbor.

Before you make that first cut or take that first bite, share a memory of your mother and how much your mom loved it.

If you’re not a baker, visit a bakery and purchase your mom’s favorite baked goods.

Flowers, gift cards, a spa day, and more

After my mom passed away, I found myself buying flowers more often than ever. They seemed to bring a little joy to my day.

Interestingly, I discovered my sister was doing the same. Turns out, many moms feel the same way.

According to the RetailMeNot survey, 32% of moms said they’d like flowers for Mother’s Day.

Other gifts they’d appreciate included gift cards and a spa day.

Motherhood can look different to each person. There are many ways a person can be a mother — biologically, through adoption, to the community, to a pet, or to other kids in the family.

No matter how motherhood looks to you and your family, when Mother’s Day is a sad day, there are ways you can help.

From understanding why a mom might be feeling down to giving them a gift to brighten their day, your efforts can help ease their pain and let them know that you’re there for them.

If you think a mom in your life is living with untreated depression, helping them find a mental health professional is a good first step.

Unsure where to start? You can check out Psych Central’s hub on finding mental health support.

If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, help is available right now.

For immediate assistance, you can:

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