While Mother’s Day is usually thought of as a celebration, the holiday can trigger a complex string of emotions for people who have lost a parent or a child.
Jen Hartstein, Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor and a practicing psychologist, reveals how to cope with these feelings and how to help those around you who may be struggling.
“We’re going to be feeling a rainbow of emotions when we are dealing with this kind of loss. We might be angry or disappointed or just entrenched in our grief and sadness,” says Hartstein. “At the same time though we might be feeling hopeful feelings — having solid, positive memories of them and feeling really wistful and pleased with the person we’ve become in the face of the loss of our parent. You might be bouncing back and forth between the positives and the negatives, and just allow it to happen and ride the rollercoaster,” she adds.
During the coronavirus crisis, many are experiencing the loss of a parent or a child for the first time, and coping with the outbreak and grief can be an added challenge for some.
“Losing a mother during the time of coronavirus adds another layer because we can’t be there in person, so that might trigger a lot of guilt for many of us. One of the things we have to ask ourselves is, ‘Is this guilt justified?’” says Hartstein. “Very often the answer to that is ‘no,’” she adds.
Hartstein continues, “You are doing the best you can, you were using the resources you can and because of the crisis you literally could not be there, so cut yourself a break. Allow yourself to experience the devastation of just losing your mom rather than beating yourself up for the fact that you couldn’t do more.”
If you’re a mother who has lost a child, the holiday may bring on a multitude of emotions.
“It’s the wrong lifecycle for many of us. Parents are not ‘supposed’ to outlive their children so it adds a different level,” says Hartstein. “Allow yourself to move through it. Grief is like an ocean — the waves keep coming but eventually they get more calm and you’ve just got to kind of ride them as they hit you.”