The holidays are filled with so much love, joy, laughter, and the creation of memories, that it can often be hard to realize that some of your closest loved ones may be suffering in silence. I love the holidays. Yet, I also know they can stir up emotions for me if I am not intentional about my spirit. I am a mother without parents, but I find it harder to be a mother without a mom. Not that my dad didn’t have an impact on my life; he absolutely did. But there is nothing like the bond one shares with their mom after birthing children of their own. To the motherless moms – here is how I manage to navigate the holidays and the collection of feelings they may bring to my doorstep as I work to be a thoughtful mom to my children.
Acknowledge Your Emotions. I used to try to mask my grief to make others comfortable while making myself uncomfortable. Now, I talk to those who love and care for me in order to release those thoughts. I have found that once I let that energy go, I no longer feel guilty for being happy in the absence of her.
Let the Guilt Go. My first point leads into this one. Sometimes happiness feels like a betrayal to your deceased loved ones, but it is not. It is a reflection of the love you have for them and the love they had for you. Don’t stay in the darkness when the sky is blue. Guilt can hang on to you like an old frumpy sweater. Take that damn sweater off and honor your loved ones by living a life they would be proud of and elated to see.
Say Their Names. This one is by far the hardest one for me. I talk to my husband about my mom and few others who create spaces for me to feel safe as I share my feelings. By saying “mom” it allows me to speak about the memories with a smile. Before I found comfort in saying her name, I often ended up on the other end of tears whenever I mentioned her. I had not figured out to remove the guilt from the pain or how to remove the pain from the memories until I recognized the joy in those memories. Saying her name now comes with a few laughs and quick look up to the sky.
If you are a friend of someone who has lost a loved one, check in on them. They may not say much, but your love will be felt and appreciated. To the motherless moms during the holidays – keep being awesome and find your way to happiness. Your kids need you happy. And more importantly, you need you happy!