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Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) for those who’ve lost a parent

Unfortunately, that means me. This is me being vulnerable, sharing with you a version of this special occasion you may not have considered before…

As a society, we just assume that everyone has two living parents and that all of us are close to those parents: ie “What are you doing for mother’s day?” “what did you get your Mum for Mother’s Day” “How did you spend Father’s Day?”, “Are you doing anything for Father’s Day?”. These questions used to make me feel uncomfortable. A) because I’m not close to my mother and b) because my Dad has passed away.

I want to encourage us all to pause and think before we speak when it comes to these celebratory days which, may in fact, not be such a celebration for some of us.

This moment of consideration, this ability to think (empathetically) before speaking, seems to be a rare talent these days. Most of us spend much of our time in auto-pilot mode – you know, blurting things out, not really in the here and now, not present. Foot in mouth syndrome.

That used to be me.

But after losing my Dad when I was 20, I made a conscious effort not to assume anything, not assume that everyone celebrates these occasions. Just like some religions don’t celebrate Christmas or birthdays, some children don’t (or can’t) celebrate these days. I no longer feel comfortable asking people about how they spend these days; until and unless they bring it up in the first place.

On the day

I like to remember my Dad on Father’s Day by enjoying his favourite ice-cream or Chinese takeaway or going to the beach as he always loved the beach. I put out a little prayer for him, light a candle, and imagine him resting in peace, in a better place.

With my Mum, I usually just send her a message or card, something like: “Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for giving me the gift of life xx” – it’s short and sweet, I know, but I’ve found that’s best for our relationship. Until you’ve experienced a narcissistic parent first-hand, try not to judge; it’s difficult at the best of times.

Avoid the socials

I also find it helps to stay as far away as possible from social media on these days (not to mention newsagents and mass marketing, basically don’t leave your home in the two-weeks lead up). Comparisonitis is real, as Melissa Ambrosini will tell you, and it just leaves you feeling really crappy and worse off. Besides, so much of what we see on social media isn’t ‘real’, it’s only a perfectly curated version of ourselves and our lives.

If you have lost a parent, or are estranged from yours, I encourage you to stay strong, to be gentle with yourself and to give yourself plenty of time to process things. I’m definitely not perfect, but I’m progressing (and still processing). Time really is the greatest healer. Give yourself plenty of it to feel the feels and release them in healthy ways.

Sending you virtual hugs.


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