The wise say that time heals all wounds. I believe that Mother’s Day — for those of us without moms — opens up those wounds.
Ever since my mom passed away, I have become hypersensitive to every Mother’s Day share on social media. I want to hide under my bed and not deal with anything that reminds me of what I’m missing out on. I feel an emptiness inside of me as my mother loved being spoiled on Mother’s Day. No matter how much I talk to myself and disengage with people’s posts, I can’t deny the truth: I will always be motherless on Mother’s Day.
I dread this time of the year. With all the commercials and cards focusing on “celebrating mom,” they don’t quite honor those of us who have lost our mothers. I’m not jealous of those celebrating with their moms and making live memories. But there is a little piece of me that feels upset because I will never get to do that again. Are you reading with a knowing nod? Do you too recognize this complicated feeling?
I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my mother. I boarded the plane to New Delhi; the doctors put her on a ventilator. Even before I reached India’s capital from the Big Apple, mom was gone. I saw her body in the morgue and that moment transformed my life forever. When the immigration officer asked my reason for visiting India, I said, “My Mumma is dead.” In that moment, I knew life would never be the same. I had lost my anchor — the person who knew me before I even knew myself. If only I could hug her, argue with her, pamper her one last time.
I understand that my loss and pain are my own. There are so many of my friends who have lost their mother over the years. Mother’s Day feels pretty painful. We are all grieving and healing in our own ways. It’s a process and never linear. It’s a pain and emptiness I wouldn’t wish on anyone. How do we honor our mothers when we are motherless? I have been asking myself this question. Here are a few ideas:
Make New Traditions
My mother loved receiving flowers on Mother’s Day. Given that Hindus cremate dead bodies, I don’t have my mother’s grave to visit. Meaning, I can’t bring her flowers there. So, I visit the Ganesha temple instead. It’s a sacred tradition where I sit in the temple quietly for some time. I offer prasad to Ganesha and pray to God to take good care of her. I remember the woman who gave birth to me. When I feel low, I remember how she is hugely responsible for me finding my dharma and helping others. Start your own tradition. Make time for it every year. Trust me, it makes you feel closer to your mom.
Cook or Order Her Favorite Foods
The thing I miss the most about my mother: her food. She was an extraordinary cook who owned a pasta maker in the 80s. The night before she died, my parents had invited people over for dinner. Cooking, entertaining, and hosting others at home was something my mother thoroughly enjoyed. If you ask any of my cousins what they miss most about her, they will say, “Her food.” So, every Mother’s Day, I cook my mother’s favorite foods or my favorite dish that she would cook for me. If I have too many deadlines, I order takeout. I continue to informally celebrate her life. Personally, I avoid going out to restaurants to eat because Mother’s Day brunches are triggering for me. Honor what you need.
Wear Her Favorite Color
Do you remember your mother’s favorite color? My mother loved lavender and pink. She looked beautiful in them. We would often laugh how I like all things bright and vibrant, and mom was into pastels. On Mother’s Day, I wear my mother’s favorite color. It makes me feel closer to her.
Acknowledge the Signs
A week after my mom’s passing, I read a story about a writer who would see red feathers outside her office window after her mom’s untimely passing. Her mother would stitch dresses for her and often use red feathers in them. My mother loved mogra flowers. I kid you not; in the middle of NYC, I have smelled mogra in my hands. Do I have proof that it’s my mom’s presence? NO! But does it hurt me to feel connected with my mother when I miss her the most? NO! Pick what makes you happy. Your mother is still with you. If you pay attention, you will realize her presence.
Pity Is Never Pretty
I am sure we have all lost a few friendships because they thought sadness was contagious. Don’t be that person. Be it you or someone you care about, losing your mom is life altering. Sometimes, silence is the best kind of support. Other times, acknowledge the elephant in the room. Don’t look for pity or pity someone grieving their mom. Hold space, listen to others, and don’t isolate yourself. I get annoyed when people say, “It will get better.” The melancholy in the heart never goes away.
Your mother would like you to be well. Take care of yourself the way your mother would have. Be kind to those around you. Pursue what fills your heart with joy. Connect with those who share your grief. Listen to stories about your mother. Make time to reflect. It’s OK to turn inward for a little while. Remember: even if Mother’s Day feels cruel and lonely, you aren’t alone.
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” ~ Abraham Lincoln