Mother’s Day can often be a reminder of loss and grief for some
Mother’s Day can often be a reminder of loss and grief for some Liana Turner

When Mother’s Day is not a Happy Day

GRIEF and loss counsellor, Del Marie McAlister of Ballina shares some heartfelt thoughts on the not-so-happy side of Mother’s Day:

Today mothers are being loved, honoured and spoilt. It’s the day people celebrate motherhood.

Reminder of heartache

But for many, Mother’s Day is a day that reminds them of their heartache. There are many reasons why some people find Mother’s Day difficult. For some the word mother is synonymous with abandonment and rejection; their mother was absent, either physically or emotionally.

Mother’s Day forces those who have lost children to face the brutal reality that they will not be receiving a phone call from them this year, there’s no gift from them, nor will they call in to visit them like they used to. The extreme sadness of losing a child is accentuated on this day. Then there are those who for various reasons longed to become a mother themselves but this never happened.

Mum has passed away

For others Mother’s Day reawakens the sadness of having lost their Mum. The grief resurfaces as they yearn to see her beautiful smile again, hear her voice once more and hold her lovely hand.

Although many try to conceal their heartache by putting on a brave face, nevertheless the pain in their heart is very real and needs to be acknowledged. Although the agony is very raw, supressing these emotions do not help. Grief needs to be expressed, not supressed.

One of my clients once said to me after the loss of her mother, “It feels like Mum has gone on a holiday – a very long holiday.” She could not come to terms with the fact that her loving Mum had passed away, and that’s okay. No one is expecting her to. Adapting to such a sad loss takes time. There will always be a Mum-shaped gap in her heart. That space can become filled with regrets, anger and intense sadness or it can become a place of happy memories and loving thoughts.

Filling the void

Treasured memories and loving thoughts have the potential to heal the wound of separation and fill ones heart with love for the person who has passed away. Love is the greatest force in the universe, and as King Solomon once said, “The passion of love is more powerful than death, stronger than the grave”.

Perhaps on this Mother's Day those who are sad could buy a lovely rose bush and plant it in honour of their child / mother. A small time of reflection, accompanied by some tears helps.

Diplomat and author Washington Irving says, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”

I always recommend bereaved people create their own support network. Some are lovingly supported by family and friends while others join social media groups.

Del Marie McAlister runs a support group in Ballina called AFTERLOSS.

You can email her for more information at

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