When my mother died in Ireland in 1988 I did not know a single child (other than my older brother) whose mother had also died. Every child I knew had a mother and that meant I was different. I had nobody to talk to who understood what it felt like for a little girl of eleven to have lost her mother. As I’ve previously mentioned in my writing I had, and still have, a wonderful, supportive and loving father in my life who was happy to talk about my mother and keep her beautiful memory alive in our home. I am the capable, loving, independent person I am today because my father stayed by my side, guiding me and loving me through it all. I will always be grateful for him.
That said, it is refreshing to see an increase in the number of grief support groups online and an acceptance and appreciation of what these groups offer. Vulnerability is no longer seen as a weakness. People who wish to share their stories of heartbreak and loss now have several platforms from which to share. I often receive messages thanking me for my blog posts and though I’ve never met most of these people I can now see that there are people who understand. I had no idea that so many women lost their mothers when they were young children because back then I knew of nobody my age or even a little older, in my position. Now that we are all more connected through technology I see how our heart stories help others. Our experiences can guide and empower those who feel alone and afraid. Why should people feel alone in their grief when death and grieving is a natural part of the life cycle?
We shouldn’t feel alone. It is devastating, anxiety-producing and lonely to lose your mother as a child. Until we talk about it we carry that trauma around in our bodies. The more we talk openly about death and loss the better a society we are. I wrote BRIEFLY I KNEW MY MOTHER, my memoir-in-progress, to show others what a child’s journey through anxiety, mother loss and grief looks like. I turned out okay. I got through school and I earned two college degrees. I taught young children in elementary and kindergarten for thirteen years and I am married to a wonderful man. I’m happy and grateful for the life I have. But there have been struggles over the years as a result of losing Mam. It’s helpful to find your tribe.
If you haven’t yet found an online grief support group following your mom’s death or if your friends can’t relate to your feelings, or if you just want to work through this grief period alone for a while, here are some suggestions for getting through Mother’s Day.
Online grief support groups and pages dedicated to grief and loss are popping up and thousands of people are joining them. More people are open to sharing their heart stories while offering support and comfort to fellow grievers. These communities are welcoming and supportive. Here are a few of my favorites (I include my own pages in the list):
- A Lovely Woman is where I blog regularly about mother loss, early childhood loss and grief.
- My Facebook author page offers support, inspiration and healing to women who have experienced mother loss & to all grievers worldwide.
- Hope Edelman has a website dedicated to her work in the field of mother loss and grief. On her site she lists statewide support groups for those missing their mothers. She also has a public Facebook page where she shares a wealth of information and stories pertaining to grief and loss.
- Mother Loss International is a Facebook page offering community, support and kindness.
- Without My Mum hosted by Leigh Van Der Horst, author of the book ‘Without My Mum.’ Opportunity to join a private group on this page.
- Motherless Daughters is a page dedicated to mother loss with supportive posts and comments by a community of over 400,000 followers.
- Grief Rites Foundation is a Portland based community movement where people openly share their grief stories.
- Modern Loss offers candid content, community and resources on loss and grief. These ladies organize the ANNUAL MOTHER’S DAY SWAP.
- Modern Loss closed group for the Modern Loss community.
- OptionB.Org offers the tools you need to build resilience after grief and trauma. There are opportunities here to join specific groups for solidarity and support and find information from experts.
- Motherless Daughters Virtual Support Group is a global support network hosted by my friend Adrienne for women who have experienced mother loss.
- Project Brave Birds is a page run by my friend Cheryl where the journeys and achievements of inspirational motherless women are celebrated.
- Meetup.com offers an opportunity to find or organize your own Motherless Daughter group. I found the Portland group through Meet Up many years ago and became organizer for one year.
- The Imaginary Library on Instagram is one woman’s beautifully illustrated and relatable grief-journey.
- Motherless Daughter’s Early Mother Loss Group on Facebook is wonderfully supportive.
- Claire Bidwell Smith is an author and grief therapist. Claire frequently shares personal stories of her own grief journey on her beautiful Instagram page.
Suggestions for Mother’s Day weekend include:
- Try writing a healing letter to your mother on Mother’s Day. It might allow you to feel closer to her, and less alone. I give some suggestions on how to attempt this on my blog.
- See if any of these book suggestions might help. Make yourself a warm cup of tea, settle into a cozy chair and put your feet up. Some of these books will make you cry, others will allow you to feel less alone. All of them helped me in one way or another.
- Hope sometimes hosts a free 30-minute conference call for motherless daughters the day before Mother’s Day. Check out her page for details.
- Motherless Mother’s Day Ceremony to be held in Portland, Oregon. Suggestions for participation are given on the page for those unable to attend in person. Or perhaps hold your own.
- Give to a charity in honor of your mother or volunteer for an organization where your expertise is appreciated. Examples include EmpowerHer, Womenforwomen, Girl’s Inc., The Dougy Center and Camp Erin.
- If you’re in Australia check out this fabulous idea Trees For Mum.
- Take a look at my blog post and see if any of these twelve ideas help.
- Most of all be kind to yourself.
- Share my blog post What Not to Do When Someone You Know Has Lost Their Mother. It’s one of my most popular blogs but I’ve a feeling it’s mostly us motherless daughters who are reading and sharing it! 🙂
Sending big hugs and lots of love to you this Mother’s Day. Notice the soft breeze on your cheek, listen to bird song in the trees, take time to breathe and give yourself some sweet care. Listen for the whisper of your mother’s voice. Her love is with you today and always. Speak to her. Place your hand on your heart. That’s where she is.
Like or follow my public Facebook page here where I frequently post articles, quotes & information about mother loss, grief and the writing process.