Grieving the Loss of a Mother in the Month of May


Grieving the Loss of a Mom on Mother’s Day
Posted by Jennifer S · May 11, 2016 · No Comments
This blog entry is taken from the blog of “The Oregonian” by Helen Jung.

Coping strategies are discussed below from this blog entry for helping yourself grieve as well as supporting another during their personal grief journey.

Donna Schuurman offers her input as well. Donna is the Executive Director of The Dougy Center, a nonprofit grief support center for children and their families who have experienced a significant death loss similar to Jeff’s Place.

Grieving the Loss of a Mom on Mother’s Day

We can explore the depths of the oceans and the outer reaches of space, but we, as a society, still don’t deal well with death and loss.

Sometimes, the flubs are obvious — a 9-year-old told by her teacher that she couldn’t make a Mother’s Day card because her mother was dead, said Donna Schuurman. Schuurman is executive director of The Dougy Center, a nonprofit grief support center for children and their families who have experienced a death.

But other times, we may fumble by omission — like ignoring a struggling friend who is grieving the loss of a mother — just as Mother’s Day is coming.

For many kids and adults who have lost a parent, Mother’s Day can bring a sense of isolation as they cope privately with their grief while others happily celebrate with Mother’s Day brunch specials and flower deliveries.

“We’ll send cards (after a death) and say nice things like ‘I’m sorry to hear about your mother,” Schuurman said. “But very few people go beyond that and ask ‘Tell me about her. What was your relationship like?’… What (grieving) people need is to find opportunities to be understood and to express what they’re going through.”

So how do you help yourself or a loved one to cope? Schuurman offered some advice not just on what to do, but how to think about grief for Mother’s Day or any holiday that magnifies the loss of what was — or could have been. Even those who did not have picture-perfect family memories often believe they could have repaired relations if they just had more time, she said.

•Be patient. Grief is not something that people just need to “get past,” she said. “We don’t want to forget the person who died,” she said. “And we’re in a society that says you need to move on, you need to put this behind you.” Don’t make the mistake of believing the cliche that time heals all wounds. “What heals wounds is attending to them,” she said.
•Listen. People get hung up on what they should say, Schuurman said. That’s not the point. The grieving person needs someone to listen. “We don’t know how to just sit with someone and let them cry or let them reminisce.” For those who are grieving, she says, seek out those who want to hear your story.
•Buy a Mother’s Day card. Write the sentiments and message that you want to say to your loved on. “Death doesn’t end the relationship. It ends the ability to talk in the physical presence.” Schuurman recalled writing a letter to her father after he had died about a decade ago. She just put her father’s name on it with no address or return address and dropped it in the mailbox without a stamp. “I just put it out into the universe, because I needed to say it,” she said.
•Mother yourself. Take some time to reminisce, get a massage, take a walk or take care of yourself in a way that your mother would have — or you wish she would have.
•Create other rituals. If your loved one is buried at a cemetery, make Mother’s Day a day for a visit. Think about what your mother loved, and create an outing connected to that. It could be as simple as taking the kids for an ice cream sundae to celebrate their mom’s love of ice cream.
•Let yourself feel what you feel. Recognize that feelings of envy or sadness are normal when you see others celebrating. Connected with that, she suggests that parents should not hide their grief from their kids. You can explain to them why you’re sad, and integrate these kinds of discussions through their lifetimes.
•Send a sympathy card. Again. Reach out to a grieving friend by letting them know that you are thinking of them and that Mother’s Day may be a bittersweet day for them.

Post by Linda, Editor

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