Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are usually happy celebrations. But for people who’ve lost a parent, those days may trigger feelings of sadness, loss and regret.
Some believe the days leading up to celebration may be harder than the day itself. Seeing the shopping ads, stores with greeting cards and candy offerings and the media coverage leading up to special days can be painful reminders of what is lost.
When you see other people having special events with their parents, it can be sad to know that the tradition will be different for you. You might regret not having spent more time with your parents, be jealous of friends having special celebrations, miss your family traditions or just miss being able to share this special time with your own mom or dad.
Here are some ideas:
Have a quiet day on your own – perhaps do something you used to do with your mom, spend time looking at family photos or visit friends.
Do things differently – if the thought of a tradition is too painful, then change it up.
Remember the good times – enjoy your dad’s favorite meal or listen to his favorite music.
Create a memorial – plant flowers or a tree in a place that holds special memories.
Catch up with your siblings – share memories, or if you don’t feel ready to relive memories, visit your mom’s final resting place, lighting a candle or having a memorial gathering in your home.
Buy a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day card – write a message and display it at home, take it to the cemetery or perhaps mark the day with flowers in memory of your parent.
Release a balloon – young people might wish to tie a card or special message to a balloon and release it into the sky, or blow bubbles and imagine they carry a message.
Involve children in decisions – ask them how they feel about the day, and let them know that they can share any thoughts and feelings with you. They may be worried about upsetting you, so help them feel included. They may have some good ideas on what to do.
Be patient with yourself – whether this is the first celebration without your parent or if your loss was long ago, this time can intensify grief. That’s not something you need to “fix.” It’s a natural part of life.
Allow yourself to grieve – sometimes anticipation can be worse than the days themselves. Recognize that these times may be difficult.
Tell others what you need – do you want to continue traditions, begin new ones or not celebrate at all? Choose what you want to do and let those around you know how they might help you.
Reach out for support – if you think you need support, ask! Friends or family may feel awkward about offering help, so if you want company or support, let them know.
Don’t feel guilty if you have moments of fun – honoring your parents includes knowing that they would want you to be able to feel joy.