Mother’s Day without mom

Mother’s Day after a mom passes can be hard. But it can also be healing.

A mother and daughter embrace


Mother’s Day is a holiday filled with emotions. Its meaning changes from person to person and from life stage to life stage. If you are grieving the loss of a mother or mother figure in your life, this time of year can feel especially heavy. Memories and emotions of all kinds are bound to surface. Coping can start to seem impossible.

Remember, you are not alone. Grief is challenging.1 But Mother’s Day can also come with opportunities to evolve through loss. There are many ways you can take care of yourself and nurture emotional growth during difficult times.

Take Inventory of Yourself

It can be tempting to try to power through and handle emotions as they come. But, that can be like walking outside without checking the weather during thunderstorm season. Sure, it’s possible the day will be mild. There’s also a big chance you can get caught in the rain without a plan.

If you are new to grief, it can seem like you’re stepping into uncharted territory at this time of year. But you have the power to create your own journey forward. Journaling can be a great way to reflect on where you’re at and where you want to be. Countless studies have pointed to the holistic benefits of writing down your thoughts, especially during difficult times.2

If you are having intense feelings, that is normal. If you feel nothing, that’s normal too. Grief can be complicated. While one person might feel jealous of others who still have a mother figure in their life, another might feel relief after watching over a caretaker with a painful illness. Still, someone else might feel both.3 Others might have entirely different emotions. The experience of loss is unique for everyone.

Self care in difficult times is important. It also isn’t always easy. Grief is more than an emotional response. It is a process that impacts everything, including physical health.4 Taking the time to check in with yourself can help you prioritize your long term wellbeing.

Build Your Own Safe Space

The outside world and your internal feelings are connected. When facing a potentially stressful time like Mother’s Day, it can be helpful to be in tune with your surroundings and see how they influence your headspace.5

There are countless ways to create a supportive environment to manage intense emotions:

  • Nurture personal relationships: Chances are, you know people who feel the same way you do about Mother’s Day. Setting up a simple hangout or quick phone call can greatly improve your mental health. Feel free to discuss things that have nothing to do with Mother’s Day, too. Not as a distraction, but as a reminder that life contains endless opportunities for connection and meaning.
  • Find independent support: Family dynamics can be tougher to navigate after a recent death. If you are looking for outside support, there are plenty of options. Virtual and in person support groups can be truly helpful.6
  • Anticipate triggers and make a plan: Getting unsolicited reminders about Mother’s Day can be unfortunate. Your inbox could even start to feel like an emotional minefield. Feel free to unsubscribe from newsletters and online shops known for holiday promotions. Some websites also allow you to mute their emails during Mother’s Day. Talk with a counselor or support group about getting a plan together to face your emotional triggers. Being prepared is an empowering experience when things can feel out of control.

Grief is not a linear process. Emotions can shift from day to day, and even from hour to hour. What’s important is that you know you are not alone. Help is available. Grief counselors, support groups, books, and everyday friendships can help you ground yourself during hard times.

Grow Through It All

Death is part of life. Finding out how to navigate it—not eliminate its impact—is key to long term wellbeing.7 Honoring your parent with meaningful work can help you evolve through grief:

  • Lend a hand: Is there a particular cause your mom or mother figure cared about? Helping others can help you grow. Think about spending time working toward something positive in your caretaker’s memory. Animal shelters, after school programs, libraries, homeless shelters, senior centers, and local parks usually need volunteers.
  • Try something new: Is there a skill that can connect you to your mom or mother figure? It doesn’t matter if they knitted mittens, grew flowers, or climbed mountains. This time of year can be a chance to connect with the life of the person who helped shape yours. It can also teach you new things about the world and yourself.
  • Connect with loved ones: Organizing an event that brings people together can be very healing. Even sitting in a park and sharing stories can help everyone make new treasured memories.

Taking the time to honor someone’s life is a way to honor your own needs.

Mother’s Day is difficult for many. Make sure to give yourself a safe space to feel intense feelings instead of pushing them aside. Evolving through, not getting over, grief is a larger conversation that is important for society as a whole—not just for individuals.

Remember that you are not alone. There are endless resources to help you move forward.

Looking for more tips on how to navigate grief? Read more about the subject in our Health Library here.


  1. NPR, 2022.
  2. Read about the health benefits of journaling here.
  3. Harper’s Bazaar, 2023.
  4. Learn more about grief and physical health here.
  5. Women’s Health Magazine, 2021.
  6. Death Studies, 2019.
  7. Journal of Death and Dying, 2022.
Any information MetroPlus Health Plan, Inc. (“MetroPlusHealth”) provides herein is for informational purposes only. It is not medical, legal, or professional advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your health care provider or other professional. If you have any concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider’s office. This information is not intended to imply that services or treatments described in the information are or are not covered benefits under your plan. Please refer to your Membership Agreement, benefit summary, or other plan documents for specific information about your benefits coverage. While we endeavor to ensure the information presented has been obtained from reliable source(s), MetroPlusHealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.
last updated: May 17, 2023

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