Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Motherless Momma


I’ve known since I was six years old that I wanted to be a mom. I knew that I would find immense purpose in bringing life into the world and building a strong relationship with my future child. I also knew that I’d be so proud to make my parents grandparents. I daydreamed of days when my baby would open Christmas gifts with my mom and dad as they sat excitedly underneath our freshly chopped Fraser fir. And yet here I am, motherless and celebrating my second Mother’s Day. 

Unfortunately, my spouse was never able to meet my mom because she passed away when I wcelebrating mother's day as a motherless momas in my sophomore year of college, and I had yet to meet him. I know Mother’s Day is always tough for him as he walks on egg shells to not say too much or too little. The day can be hard for all my family and friends as well. I know they all try to be sensitive while celebrating my role as a mom. I’d like to think I am not an oversensitive individual, but the Mother’s Day conundrum always makes me a bit tense.

So to the spouse, friend or family member of a motherless mom (MM), here are a few pieces of advice:

Don’t ignore the loss. There’s truly nothing more painful than everyone pretending like you can’t be a bit sad while enjoying your own special day as a mom. Acknowledge the loss and check in with your MM. The truth is, your MM is probably enjoying every second of her day but is also thinking about all the Mother’s Days past and counting the number of Mother’s Days spent without her mom or reflecting on silly gifts given.

Share a little empathy. With a quick “Your mom would be proud of the mom you’ve become,” or a “Don’t worry, we’ll teach him/her about your mom,” you can help your MM make the day a little easier. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel guilty feeling sad about a day that is dedicated to celebrating me. Sharing a little empathy would make things a bit easier on your MM to dispel the guilt she might be feeling.

Talk about it. Each Mother’s Day there’s a weight I carry around. The weight of loss and the weight of a missing grandparent for my mini-me. There’s also a moment when I look at my child and realize how much he loves me. And that loving look quickly reminds me of a love I once gave to my mom and a love that no longer exists for me. So try to help your MM talk about it. Help her identify the impact of those thoughts. This is also an opportunity for you to bond and become closer as you discuss the grief of your MM.

Ask questions. Disclaimer: If I were only a few years out from losing my mom, this wouldn’t work. I would have shut down and felt uncomfortable. But now that I’m closing in on a decade of motherlessness, I can finally engage in a healthy discussion regarding my relationship with my mom. So if you have a seasoned MM, ask her questions about her mom. Try to understand the unique connection that makes this day difficult for her.

Make a small gesture. Understandably, this may be a difficult piece of advice to maintain year after year, but try to show a bit of compassion through a meaningful small gesture. This could be framing a picture of your MM and her mom or visiting her mom’s final resting place. You could also plant a tree or flower in her memory or help your MM bake her mom’s favorite dish.

Accept that this may never go away. If you’re like me, your spouse may have never met your mom. So they will always struggle to understand your pain. I wish I could forget, but I can’t. I wish I could let go to simply enjoy the day with my son, but I can’t. Because my mom is missing. She’s not a phone call away. There’s no Mother’s Day card for me to send. There’s no one to treat to brunch. There’s no mani-pedi date. And there’s no Facebook or Instagram post that doesn’t end without having me in tears. So be patient, be understanding, and accept that this may never go away.

celebrating mother's day as a motherless mom - remembering what it was like to have a mom My late mom lost a 30-day battle to an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 57. She went from visiting me at college to motionless within two months. She struggled to stand up on Christmas and was unable to walk three days later. On the day I told her it was okay to go, I recorded her saying “I love you.” Each Mother’s Day I listen to my precious little recording and remember what it was like to have a mom. I know that my grief is just that, MY grief. I will always be working on processing this loss, but on Mother’s Day, I think all MM could use a little extra help.