Mourning on Mother’s Day

By Aabye-Gayle D. Francis-FavillaMay 11, 2017

On any given day, someone is rejoicing and someone is grieving. Mother’s Day is no different. There are mothers being pampered and others being mourned and remembered. It is a day, like so many, when we’re reminded of the intersections between the living and the dead. Within one generation there can be women who mourn while they are also being celebrated.

Mother’s Day makes me think about life and death. I grieve with those for whom this is another in a line of Mother’s Days without the child they want but cannot have, or without the child they had but lost. I also rejoice with those of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother (or an expectant mother) for the first time. Life is always a miracle, but for some that miracle comes after years of yearning, disappointment, and loss. Regardless of whether your road to motherhood was short or long or easy or arduous, your first Mother’s Day as a mother will be full of life and joy. Savor it.

For me, Mother’s Day will always have a component of mourning added to the celebration of life. I feel grateful for the mother who birthed and raised me. I am glad to be alive. I’m so thankful for the mother I had and the memories we shared, but I can’t celebrate Mother’s Day without some sadness or the wish that my mother could still be here.

My mother died more than a decade ago, but on Mother’s Day that loss feels especially fresh. And I know that I am not alone in my bereavement. Every Mother’s Day I think about those for whom it will be the first since their mother died. I remember the year of sad seasonal firsts after my mother passed away. The happier the occasion used to be, the more her absence rendered subsequent celebrations empty. For me, holidays were the hardest. Every milestone became a heavy burden to bear. Those first few years, when the loss was still a fresh cut to my heart, seeing everyone else’s joy felt like filling my wound with salt. For a while, all happiness was a reminder of what I’d lost.

There are a lot of people mourning on Mother’s Day. I know because of my experiences visiting the cemetery. There is always a traffic jam outside the entrance, and finding a parking spot is like discovering a bilingual, three-winged unicorn on the subway. I felt painfully self-conscious one year when I arrived to find a picnic occurring a few tombstones away. The family had lively music playing from an open car, lawn chairs, and a box of pizza. I didn’t begrudge their way of marking the day, but it was a distracting contradiction to my own. Now I try to avoid the cemetery on Mother’s Day. I don’t like to be there with a crowd. I like it to be quiet and private. I want it to feel like it’s just me and my love for her.

There are lots of emotions being experienced on Mother’s Day. Some have mothers; others have memories. For some it’s sad or complicated; for others it’s purely celebratory. Not everyone knew his or her mother—or liked her. Not everyone’s childhood provided healthy love and happy nostalgia.

But whatever you feel, whether good, bad, or mixed, know that someone else out there is in a similar emotional position. You’re not alone in feeling those feelings or thinking those thoughts. Whatever Mother’s Day is like for you, you’re not the only one.

You can check out the original post and more of Aabye-Gayle’s work here.

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Comments (9)

  1. Gail Ann Porter

    Yes I do find Mother’s Day and every holiday empty because she is no longer with us. I’m grateful that I was lucky enough to have my mom because mothers are such an important part of us. I was 45 when my mom died and I always thought that I couldn’t imagine a young girl losing their mother. My mom lives on inside of me she was an excellent example teaching me and my sisters to always be kind and never pass judgement on others unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Always there in times of need especially during the worst moments possible with love and encouragement and a quick kick in the ass to move along. To this day I’m forever grateful she taught us to always do our best no matter what it is and be proud. She was simple never neady always impeccably neat and clean and fresh. She was an athlete she was strong yet gentle. I’m proud to carry on in her footsteps and spread her wealth of a human being around be patient and kind. “Kill with kindness” she would say when met with challenging people (there were times I wanted to leave the kindness out). It’s easier to be kind and patient you don’t miss all the good moments this way, you treasure every second of every day. And so I wish all mothers a happy Mother’s Day and to my kids I thank them for everyday because without them I would not have this wonderful fulfilling title. I’m happy to take what my mother taught me and send a piece of it along to my kids in her honor with extra love ❤️.?❤️?❤️

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  2. Caitlin

    My mother died when I was fourteen. Today is my birthday, as I write this, and it always falls around Mother’s Day. The first Mother’s Day without her fell on my birthday. One of the most difficult things to do.
    I bought my step-mom a card for the holiday and grew upset at the lack of cards made for step parents or other guardians. I felt so out of place. And I felt sad and oppressed that everyone else that I knew got to share a holiday celebrating the love of their mothers. And I had no outlet that could ever compare to my mother.
    I am coping as best I can, but days like my birthday or hers or Mother’s Day ring true. Hope everyone stays strong this weekend. Remember the passionate woman she was, and that is how she’ll always stay with you.

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  3. Lindsay


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  4. Debbie

    Thank you. My mom has been gone many years and things with her were complicated. My grandmothers, whom I was very close to, are also gone. I have one child and she lives 2000 miles away. My heart ached on Mother’s Day. I was SO very blessed later that day when my daughter surprised me. She flew all night to be here on Mother’s Day. What an amazing blessing and the best Mother’s Day ever. As you said, definitely a day of mixed emotions. I long for more days with my mother and grandmothers and always long for more time with my daughter. God keeps reminding me to count my blessing where I am and HE will take care of the rest. Great post…

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  5. Nikki

    This couldn’t have found me at a better time. My mother gave up the fight, she lost her strength and ended her life on June 4th, 2005. Every Mothers Day is a reminder that she is not here to celebrate this day just for her. It isn’t fair. Instead of me buying a card and flowers, I lay in bed because I just don’t want to face the world on that day. I don’t get to call my mom up and make plans. I don’t get to argue with her about her being late. Instead I get to have a stomach ache from the anxiety that fills my mind and body everyday. Instead I have tear filled eyes and a broken heart. I have depression that sometimes I cant control and it gets the best of me and I cant get out of bed. I have panic disorder and abandonment issues that make me tired, and seem like a mess to everyone. The day my mom left this earth, was the day my life changed forever. I am never going to be that happy girl anymore, because no matter what I do I cannot fill that void, or the pain that is there every single day. I miss her so much! Thank you for writing this blog and acknowledging the ones who are hurting on this day. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Becky Ebert

      Hi Nikki,

      We are truly sorry for the loss of your mother and the pain you’ve been enduring. We are glad that Aabye-Gayle’s post spoke to you and you know that you are not alone in these feelings on Mother’s Day or any day.

      If you would like to share more of your story, you can email us at [email protected]. You are not alone.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  6. Lori

    Thank you for writing this. I needed to know I’m not alone…My Mom just passed away from septic shock because she was not strong enough to fight a simple infection after having just completed chemo to fight incurable, metastasized endometrial cancer a week and half before Mother’s Day, May 2, 2017. Mother’s Day was a very hard, very dark day for me. I struggled to stay positive and celebrate her life, but I couldn’t. I’m so angry, it hurts, she was supposed to be there and she was going to come to my wedding at the end of this month.. Her doctor had given the OK for her to travel. So Mother’s Day was one of the first days I seriously considered suicide. I didn’t because mom wouldn’t have wanted me to and my dad needs me, and I couldn’t put my fiance what I am going through. But just the prospect of my wedding with her, of holidays and anniversaries without her is devastating and I don’t want them to come. I know I’m not alone in this, but it feels like it. None of my friends can relate.

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    1. Becky Ebert

      Hi Lori,

      We are truly sorry for the loss of your mother. There is no doubt in our minds that she is proud of you for staying and continuing.

      If you would like to share more of your story with us, please email [email protected]. Or visit our Find Help page for resources available to you:

      Although you may feel alone in your struggles, you are not. Your dad and finance are with you. We are with you.

      With Hope,

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  7. Mary B Gutierrez

    thank you

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