Ask Dr. Christina: How Do You Celebrate Mother’s Day When Your Mom Has Died?

Dear Dr. Christina,

I am writing to you because it is that time of year again to celebrate Mother’s Day. Last year, I lost my mom to cancer and my great grandmother to old age. I am not sure how I can celebrate this day without them. Just last year we were four generations (great grandmother, grandmother, Mother and me). Now there is only my grandmother and me left. I feel so sad and I don’t know if I will be able to handle this holiday. We were a very close family and I miss them so much. How can I pay any sort of tribute to this holiday when I am still grieving their losses? Mother’s Day will never be the same, and I am unsure if I can get over the fact that they are gone, even on the other days of the year. Can you please give me some ideas for how to just get through this holiday? 


Dear Suzi,

I am so sorry for the losses of not only your mother but also of your great grandmother. You are not alone when it comes to this grieving process and many people share your feelings. For some people, Mother’s Day is the saddest day of the year—a day filled with painful memories.

Some children, of all ages, take their mothers for granted, thinking that she will always be there for them, even today. Then when something happens to their mothers and their moms are no longer here on Earth, they feel so lost and heartbroken. For some, it is too late to take back the harsh words they once told their mothers. Sometimes it is too late to say the words they wanted to say or do the things they wanted to do with their mothers. Sometimes the relationships with mothers are not close. Some may feel that she was not the best role model.

When Mother’s Day comes around, all that matters is that you would not be here if it was not for your mother. Perhaps you can forgive and recognize that at one point in time there was love between you.

You, Suzi, sound like one of the lucky ones, who cherished your mom and great grandmother while they were alive and enjoyed a deep relationship with each of them.

I can tell you that the pain tends to fade with time, but it may never go away completely. The pain is always the worst when it is within the first year of their deaths. I too am the only one standing from four generations of such beautiful women who influenced me to become the person that I am today. Without their influence, kindness, compassion and love, I would never be writing to you today. The gift they have given you is something to be honored and cherished for the rest of your life.

There are many people who never have received this treasure of how to live life and how to love that you are feeling and maybe missing right now. It will take time for you to accept what has happened. You cannot expect to rush the process of this grief and your feelings.

I am so glad you wrote to share your feelings. This is the first step for acknowledging your loss.  Every year, you may find it difficult, but each year you’ll grow stronger.

Perhaps in the near future, you will feel strong enough to share their memories. It is never too late to tell them “Thank you…”

1)    For giving you your life

2)    For helping to kiss your tears away when your feelings were hurt

3)    For nursing you back to health when you were sick

4)    For teaching you right from wrong

5)    For making sacrifices so you could have the things you needed and wanted

6)    For understanding that you weren’t perfect

7)    For believing in you when others didn’t

8)    For wanting you to have more than what she ever had

9)    For making you laugh when you were crying

10)   For making you a “kid” your whole life

11)   For being your family

12)   For loving you

Sometimes people can finally embrace and celebrate this special holiday with the memories of their Moms:

1)    Memories of past activities and parties

2)    Memories of favorite foods and recipes

3)    Memories of hobbies and crafts

4)    Memories of photos and videos of family and friends

5)    Memories of favorite sayings

6)    Memories of smiles that you were fortunate to share with them

It is so important to teach ourselves that we should be grateful for everyone in our lives, not just because it is Mother’s Day, but every day we should be grateful for each other and for our own lives.

Suzi, you are so fortunate to have had four generations of these wonderful women to celebrate, which includes you.

I hope this letter will help you know that you are not alone. You will be in my thoughts on this special day.

Dr. Christina

  • Posted By: DRC Editor
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