*For Immediate Release
5 Healthy and Honorable Ways to Approach Mother’s Day for the Motherless
By: Jenny Cox Holman
Mother’s Day stirs memories of a childhood wrapped in love and affection, meaningful birthday and holiday celebrations together, and simple days in the loving presence of a woman who selflessly lived, loved and sacrificed for her family. There are many, though, who will approach this Mother’s Day with sentiment tinged with sorrow from the loss of a mother and feelings of void with the absence of her irreplaceable love.
John Owen, CEAP, CAS, of Recovery Consultations and Addiction Educator Director of Families First for Mississippi, describes his mother, who was affectionately known as Kitty, as a resilient, hardworking business woman, talented seamstress, and unending advocate for others, who selflessly shared her complete, unconditional love with him and his siblings.
Over the past 35 years, John Owen has counseled countless individuals through seasons of suffering and loss and is now walking through a journey of grief with loss of his mother. “My mom, ‘Kitty’ - Billie Anne Owen,truly was one of those people who could give complete, unconditional love. I never felt like I could do anything that could stop her from loving me. She was that same way with the rest of our family. My brother, sisters and I knew that she was there for us, and that she was going to love us,” recalls John Owen. With the first Mother’s Day without her, speaking about his mother in the past tense amplifies a loss created by the absence of a true joy-giving woman.
This Mother’s Day may mark for you, as well, the first holiday as a day of remembrance instead of celebration. This Mother’s Day may signify years or decades since you were in the physical presence of your mom, your life’s greatest champion and best friend. You may wonder, “How do I approach Mother’s Day being motherless? How do I process these feelings of desperately desiring to hug and share words of affection once again? How can I honor the life and legacy of my precious mother?”
Consider these 5 healthy and honorable ways from John Owen, CEAP, CAS, of Recovery Consultations and Addiction Educator Director of Families First for Mississippi, to approach Mother’s Day as you grieve your mother’s death and celebrate her legacy.
1). Give yourself grace to grieve
“Grief is one of those parts of life that you can’t pretend isn’t there. Remember when you were in grade school in a play and your teacher would say, ‘Just pretend like the audience is not there and you will do fine.’ Well, grief doesn’t work like that. You are going to feel grief. You are either going to do something good with it in your heart like spending time and thinking about all the wonderful things about your mother and spending a lot of time with God; or it can take you down a dark road of depression if you don’t recognize and process it in a healthy way.”
2). Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Getting your feelings out and on paper can help in the healing process.
“Consider journaling or writing down your thoughts to get them in front of you. Often when you see something that you are feeling written down and you read it back, it makes it so much easier to self-check and to see if that is a healthy way you are looking at the situation. I tell people not to hold back on what you write because you need to see it even if it is something like unresolved resentments with that person. When your thoughts are just spinning around and hitting you in the head like a bumble bee when they want to, you don’t have much control. No matter what you write, once you get it out in front of you, you are able to take charge and make decisions about how you want to handle each of those feelings.”
3). Take comfort in a community of understanding and empathy
“There is a deep sense of community in the suffering shared with those who understand your feelings. Take comfort in the transparency of suffering and honestly shared by friends and family members who understand. When someone is transparent with their own hurt and their own feelings, it really does help with the grieving process. My brother and sisters understand how I feel because we know when we look at each other what we are feeling and missing.”
4). Honor the legacy of your mother in a way that is healthy and genuine
“The most important thing is that you know how they wanted you to live. You know what they would have wanted you to do with your grief as long as you are not immersed in negativity and cynicism. Ask yourself if what I am doing right now is an expression of my love for my mother - or isn’t it? I know that seems black and white, but it is black and white. It is either an expression of your gratitude, love, and appreciation or it isn’t. Would they want you to become self-destructive? Absolutely not!”
“What would your mother had hoped you would have done in this season? They would have wanted you to carry on with good even as you grieved their loss. Ask yourself what would genuinely have been something special to my mom? Then act on it and all you can do is bring more joy and happiness into your life. There is no downside to it; you can’t lose even if they don’t receive it. Maybe plant a garden, write something and submit it, or spend time with someone that is needy and that they really cared about and continue on their compassion. I also think closing the unresolved gap on conflict with a friend or family member and making amends, if possible, in honor of your mother is a positive, healthy, and tangible action. Those are the kind of things that will feel right to you to honor your mother’s legacy.”
5). Encourage those around you to understand the brevity of life
“Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to take inventory of appreciation and sharing gratitude that you’ve thought about and wanted to say. You better share those feelings and thoughts because you might have to wait a long time before you get to share them to your mother, face-to-face. Just remember that one day you could be thinking: ‘Why didn’t I say how I truly felt?’ or ‘Why didn’t I do that special act of kindness to let her know how I felt?’ I miss my mother terribly and I told her I loved her all the time, but if I could have that Sunday back, I would have talked about those special memories we shared that meant so much to me.”
“It is important to say everything that you need to say and everything that you feel has been left unsaid or do that gesture that you’ve been thinking about doing, like building that birdhouse. If your mother has been wanting to go somewhere special, put her in your car and find a weekend and take her and make those memories. Be intentional with your good words – you never know when it will be the last time that you are going to be together. My mother was truly a phenomenal woman who brought joy into every room she was in and I know one day I will see her again.”