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May 10, 2020 Brigitte Ganger

Getting Through Mother's Day

When grief looks a lot like jealousy

Getting Through Mother's Day
When others are celebrating their mothers it's easy to resent not having yours around anymore. (Shutterstock)

This year Instagram ads have been reminding me daily:

May 10th is Mother's Day!

Yes, I know. 

While others may find themselves forgetting this day and scrambling to find a last-minute gift, May 13th is my mother's deathiversary—a day that I never forget. And every fews years the two events coincide on the same date. So, I know better than anyone that Mother's Day is coming. It's a hard day for me. Because it's the only day my grief looks, acts and feels exactly like jealousy. 

Jealousy: the green-eyed monster 

Like her birthday or deathiversary, Mother's Day is another day to grieve for my mother, and remember times spent with her. But unlike any other day, it's also a time for everyone to honor their mothers. Between mother-daughter posts on social media, "perfect gifts for mom" ads and pressure to celebrate mothers, it's a day that can't help but remind the motherless of their motherlessness. 

Although it's tough to admit, I spent many Mother's Days writhing with jealousy. Jealous of friends who still had mothers to dote on, of everyone who's never known loss, of folks who've already conquered their own grief, and even of people who lost their mom, but got to spend more time with her before she died. Anyone and everyone was a target of my resentment and jealousy. But it only made me feel guilty that I couldn't bring myself to remember my mother with joy, rather than bitterness.

It might be difficult to accept, but feelings of anger, resentment, guilt or jealousy are very common in grief. When it comes to things like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, winter holidays, or any other event, it can seem like everyone in the world is celebrating and cheerful—except for you. The feeling that this day is unfair stems from unresolved feelings of grief related to the overall unfairness of death. You may feel that it’s not fair that the deceased person left you behind. If it feels this way, it’s because it is unfair. Just as much as death is unfair. Coming to terms with the fact that something was taken from you unfairly will help you navigate jealousy, and Mother's Day, year after year. 

We're all in this together

For those who have lost a mother, Mother's Day can be one of the hardest days of the year. It's a day that reminds most people of the special bond they share with their mother. And it's a time to show appreciation for the woman who raised, nurtured and prepared you for adulthood.

Everyone who has lost a mother understands how difficult this day is, so you are not alone! If you are resenting Mother's Day this year, find your own way to honor your mom. 

Ultimately, no one can take her place. Rage, jealousy and resentment, while typical, are misplaced grief reactions. Mother's Day is particularly difficult because everyone seems to be celebrating; but remember that the celebration of living mothers is not an attempt to ignore yours. 

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