Facing the Ache of Mother’s Day & Father’s Day Grief

By Joyce Nevola, LMSW, Bereavement Counselor

Just as the sweep of Easter and Passover greeting cards leave the shelves, the onslaught of Mother’s Day cards, gifts, and flowers flood the aisles of local stores and social media sharing platforms. Only a few weeks later, the scenario will repeat itself in celebration of Father’s Day. Cards, gifts, and visions of treasured together-times celebrate and honor our beloved parents and the gift of life we have gratefully received.

Because parents and children form a sacred bond long before birth, reminders of these days can tug at our heartstrings and pierce the depths of our souls. For young and adult children who have lost parents and parents who have lost children through death, these days can become sources of dread. For parents who have struggled with infertility, experienced miscarriages, stillbirth, loss through adoption or estrangement and for children who carry unresolved pain from parents who failed, messed up, and were flawed, these days trigger raw feelings not mirrored in our surrounding sugar-coated holiday.

Here are some suggestions on how to cope with Mother’s Day/Father’s Day grief:

  • Honor your feelings. Allow yourself to feel sadness, anger, guilt, emptiness and all your emotions that are a part of your grief. It’s OK to cry.
  • Know that anticipation can be worse than the day itself.
  • Seek out others who can offer emotional support and remember that everyone grieves in his/ her own way. Share stories and memories.
  • Take care of yourself. Grief is exhausting! Make time for solitude and rest to feed your soul.
  • Plan an activity in honor of your loved one. Do it alone or with supportive friends. Light a candle, create a memory book or visit a place that your loved one enjoyed.
  • Make a donation to a charity or to a cause in memory of your loved one.
  • Perform a random act of kindness for someone else. This gift can offer a moment of respite from your emotional pain.
  • Know that we, at the Grief Center, are here to support you. You can call for counseling or join one of our groups or participate in our activities. We honor and validate your struggle and offer to companion you on your journey.