The COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of Americans motherless this year. One model shared in a study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggested the number of children who lost a parent due to the pandemic could be as high as 40,000, a staggering amount in just a year’s time span. On the other end of the spectrum, adult children grieve their elder mothers who died during the pandemic, some who must grapple with the extra pain of not being able to properly say goodbye.
Having lost both of my parents, I do find that Mother’s Day is harder for me emotionally than Father’s Day. I believe this is because my mother died in the month of May, just a couple of weeks after the holiday. My last memories of her before she became bedridden was reading her Mother’s Day card and admiring the fresh flowers I bought for her. Even though this year will mark six years since her passing, those bittersweet memories are still the first to surface when I’m reminded of Mother’s Day via the endless online ads and TV commercials.
For those whose mothers are still alive and perhaps will be seeing in-person for the first time in months due to the pandemic restrictions, I am so thrilled for you and I hope you have a wonderful reunion. We know now more than ever that each moment with loved ones is precious.
If you have a friend who may be grieving the loss of their mother, reach out and offer support in whatever way is meaningful to them. It can be a lonely holiday for those whose mothers are no longer alive, and acknowledgment from caring souls can mean so much.
Many people are wondering how to handle Mother’s Day during a pandemic. If you are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with your mother, but are intent on keeping her healthy, you may decide not to meet in person. But there are many ways you can show her love this weekend from afar. And with so many lives lost this year, reach out to your loved ones and make sure they know how much you care.
A simple phone call would mean a lot to mothers who may feel isolated right now. Bonus points if the two of you can figure out how to video chat! Sending flowers is a simple, thoughtful gift that will brighten someone’s day. Mobile dining apps means you could have brunch delivered safely to her home. If you sent your mother a card, good for you. If you forgot, you could still send an e-card or a gift card electronically, if she has email access.
I’ve been reading about a lot of celebrations taking place in creative fashion, like a drive-by parade or holding messages up to the window. If possible, get the grandchildren involved and make it a family activity to brighten the spirits that may be strained during the stay-at-home period.
This Mother’s Day may look different than it does in a typical year, but you can still express your love and gratitude. And for those of us who no longer have our mothers, take time this weekend to reflect on happier times and cherished family memories.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Mom and I at the library, before taking a stroll through the park.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful, patient and loving mothers out there, both living and departed.
Even though it is easy to roll one’s eyes at this “Hallmark holiday,” it is a good opportunity to remember those who have cared for you and those you love. Mothering comes in many forms, from traditional to caregiving to caring for pets. A simple thank you, a sympathetic ear, a helping hand, all of these go a long way to honoring the mother(-s) in your lives.
Mother’s Day is extra difficult for me because once I get past today, the anniversary of my mom’s death looms on May 21. It’s a double gut-punch of a month now.
I’ll remember Mom today by doing some birdwatching in the backyard (our birdfeeder has become quite the hotspot) and taking a walk to appreciate other wonders of nature that my mother loved. One of Mom’s best qualities was always “stopping to smell the roses.” She appreciated every flower, every bird, all of nature’s offerings. It’s a good reminder for me to take time to enjoy nature as well and seek a healthier balance between work and other demands of modern life.
This is the first Mother’s Day I will experience motherless. At this time last year, Mom was quickly approaching death. In fact, I got her flowers early because I was afraid she might not live until Mother’s Day.
Knowing that would be the last Mother’s Day she would be alive was difficult. How do you express a lifetime of gratitude into a single day?
But experiencing Mother’s Day without a living mother is equally as difficult.
It is almost impossible to avoid the holiday. Mother’s Day ads are online, in stores, on TV … reminders to honor your mother are everywhere. I received an email reminder from the florist, to remind me I bought Mom flowers last year, and did I want to order again this year? I’m sure the business thought this was a good selling tool, but it was just a gut-wrenching reminder of the sadness I felt when placing that order. (On the flip side, Mom loved the flowers.)
I just got back from a visit to what was my parents’ condo. Each trip I am trying to make a few changes, to slowly transition it from a place of sadness and illness, which it became over the last several years of my parents’ life, to a peaceful mountain respite that my parents enjoyed for many years.
My mother’s perfume still lingers in the bedroom. Of course I reflected on the events of last year while I was there, but I busied myself by putting together new furniture and rearranging things to make it my own. It’s what my parents would want, and I left the condo feeling fairly good about the progress.
And now, a week of nonstop Mother’s Day advertisements to navigate. I know at least a few fellow bloggers who have lost their mothers in recent years, so I know you understand how it feels. Certainly just because our mothers are no longer living doesn’t mean we cannot honor their life on Mother’s Day, and that’s what I intend upon doing.
My mom and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, and sometimes she drives me crazy. But while these last several years have been difficult for our family, they have also highlighted my mom’s wonderful qualities.
So on Mother’s Day, I want to honor my mom, who was such a tireless and loving caregiver for my dad. I took for granted all of the things she did for Dad. It was not until I became my mom’s caregiver that I appreciated all of the sacrifices she made.
This is a sketch of my mom done while she was in the Navy, in the early 1960’s. It was then burned/engraved into a wood canvas. It is really a unique work, and captures my mom’s cheerful spirit.
With it being Mother’s Day, I was thinking about how my mom told me her first Mother’s Day turned out. It didn’t involve flowers or a nice brunch.
Dad was in the hospital.
Mom spent her first Mother’s Day lugging a cranky baby down the street to Kaiser Permanente hospital, where my dad was recovering from foot surgery. I’ve written before about my dad’s flat feet. At some point, he ended up with a very painful infection and had to have surgery to remedy the problem. He ended up with some post-surgery complications and was in a lot of pain. So Mom spent her first Mother’s Day visiting a loopy Dad, who was on some strong pain meds by then.
Despite the many hospital visits over the last couple of years of Dad’s life, he stayed in pretty good health after he recovered from the foot surgery. There were those occasional ER trips because of his stomach issues, but no inpatient stays until the dementia had taken its toll on his body.
My mom and dad spent a great deal of time together, especially after my dad retired. As with most people, they could end up wearing on each other’s nerves from time to time. As I’ve mentioned previously, Mom always babied Dad a bit. The man was barely allowed in the kitchen, unless it was time to eat. I don’t think Dad (in his right mind) could have made himself a cup of coffee if his life had depended upon it. Mom made all the meals, all the snacks and every cup of coffee that passed Dad’s lips at home. The home was her domain (befitting her Cancer astrology sign) and Dad knew his place in the home.
And I don’t think Dad minded this arrangement one bit. After all, he came from a generation where the woman was the homemaker and stayed at home to raise the children and support the family’s needs.
My mom told me recently that before Dad had dementia, sometimes she would just need some alone time, and gasp, didn’t feel like making dinner. So she would send Dad off and would tell him he was on his own for dinner. He never once complained about being shooed out of the house. He usually ended up at McDonald’s. One time he brought her home a cookie from whatever restaurant he dined at. I’m guessing Dad needed his alone time just as much as Mom did. Of course, once the dementia set in, Mom would have given anything to have another non-eventful meal with that former version of her husband, the easy-going man who she was married to for 40 years.