As I put the vase on the counter and handed over the money, I felt a mixture of emotions. My initial feeling was happiness, because I knew Andy’s Mum would absolutely love this gift and it’d look super cute in her new home. That feeling was counteracted (unintentionally might I add) by feelings of guilt, sadness and jealousy. The vase read: ‘If mum’s were flower’s, I’d pick you’. Andy’s Mum has been a wonderful influence in my life for the past six years, but I couldn’t help but feel I was betraying my own Mum by buying it and felt irrational fear that the message on the vase made it look like I was trying to steal Andy’s Mum (silly right?). Of course, the woman behind the counter was none the wiser and in fact she said to me ‘aw I’m sure she’ll love it’. I don’t blame the woman for saying those words, but equally, I must admit I can’t help but internally flinch every time the words ‘Mothers Day’ are mentioned and assumptions like that are made.
As the month of March comes to an end and Mothers Day approaches, I go from thinking I’ve got all my ducks in a row, to suddenly feeling back at square one. Now that I’m going through it, I’ve come to realise how little grief is talked about openly and how nothing can really prepare you for that whirlwind of emotions.
Nearly two years down the line since my Mum passed away, I thought I would be strong enough to walk into a shop and be bombarded by mothers day advertisements / buy my mother in law a gift without feeling a wave of sadness, but turns out grief isn’t that simple. The most difficult thing is you can’t escape it – the constant advertisements in supermarkets, emails springing up with messages like ‘treat your mamma!, ‘show your mum love on this special day‘ in what seems like huge letters jumping out the phone and endless social media posts of people doing fun things with their mums. If I’m honest it is hard not to feel like you are drowning in a sea of mums that aren’t yours. Even now my mum isn’t here, I still share a little post for her on my social media as a way of remembering her, so in no way do I blame people with mums on this earth for sharing their appreciation. In fact, it is always around this time of year that I become subconsciously more attuned to mothers and daughters around me and I always find a solid ‘we are related but more importantly we are the best of friends’ type of mum/daughter relationship so endearing and lovely to see as it reminds me of the one I once had. We had all of Andy’s family over for tea the other week (mum, dad, sister, sisters husband) and we were all sat in the living room and I glanced over to the other sofa and saw Sue (mum) and Soph (sister) sharing a little joke and giggling. I know they won’t have thought anything of that exact moment because you tend not to when you’re living it, but as an outsider looking in, it brought a little tear to my eye because it was so beautiful – it not only made my think of my Mum and the fact that we were so alike to Sue/Soph, but it made me thankful to have such fabulous women in my life that I know I can depend on in my mum’s absence.
2019 will be my second motherless Mother’s Day. On an exceptionally difficult day, here are some of the things I plan tell myself to make it a little easier:
Think about what your Mum would have wanted – My mum was an inspiration to so many people. Even in the darkest days, she brought the light by being so positive. I aim to take on the day with the strength that she once had and do my best to use the day to remember the good times we shared.
Embrace your emotions – It is all well and good to plan to be Mrs positive pants all day but lets face it, I cry. A lot (been crying throughout writing this even!). Therefore, I will say to myself it is okay if I wake up and the plan goes tits up and I can’t face it. Grief is complicated and unpredictable. I am a firm believer that it isn’t good to bottle things up and if I feel the tears building up then I’m gonna let those babies flow. Listen to your body Hannah, and run with whatever feels right!
Celebrating someone else’s mum doesn’t make you a bad daughter to your own – I will more than likely be spending the day pampering Andy’s mum Sue and making her feel special, which will be lovely. It really is hard to not feel bad for celebrating someone else’s Mum but at the end of the day, I know for a fact that when my Mum was alive, she knew how much of a close relationship I had with Sue and I think she will be looking down on me and be happy that I have the support from her. So if I share this and you’re reading – get ya glad rags on Suzie Poozie because this is your day!
Share the lovely memories and show gratitude- It is hard sharing old photographs of Mum, knowing I’ll never be able to take a new one. But memories are precious and I plan to share lots on mothers day because although my Mum won’t be here to see it, I find it heartwarming when I share a photo of her and somebody who knows her shares a comment about what a great woman she was. It is also important to show the love for the mothers still in my life, even if they aren’t my own. I have so many inspirational women around me so will be giving a little shout out to them to remind them that they are doing a fabulous job day in day out.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the day won’t last forever – In the grand scheme of things, it is one day out of 365. It will be difficult, but you will get through it.
Talk- When my mum first passed away, I was so busy as the executor of her will sorting everything out that it took a while for it to all really sink in. Initially I thought I’d be able to cope with it all by myself but who was I kidding? I’ll be honest, I’ve accessed grief counselling, cried my eyes out on countless occasions to Andy, my family and my friends, but at the end of the day – that is OKAY. Talking is difficult, and especially on mothers day, as I would hate to think I am taking away from someone else’s celebrations. However, it is so so important because grief can be isolating at times and if you have those supportive arms around you, embrace them.
Sometimes you don’t feel like talking and for a long time I have thought I should write my thoughts down on paper and keep a sort of thought journal. Since I am using this blog to do just that (albeit on possibly more lighthearted topics!) I thought this would be the best platform to share my honesty about grief and my experiences. Who knows if this will ever reach anybody who is in a similar position, but if it does, then I hope it has brought you some comfort in knowing that you are not alone and your whirlwind emotions are completely normal. If you haven’t already, listen to ‘Rise up – Andra Day’ – one of my all time favourite songs. The lyrics are so relevant to the pain I feel not having my Mum in my life, yet it gives me some inspiration to rise up, face the day head on and do it all for her, to make her proud.
If I choose to share this with the people I know and love (currently undecided and feeling anxious as hell about it if I’m truthful) then I hope you enjoyed getting to know me and my thoughts a little better.Oh and before I leave to go wipe my tears and blow my nose (I am a hot mess), I just want to say a massive thank you to someone who has been both a mum and dad to me since I was born and continues to take on both roles to this day. You are one of the strongest people I know – thank you for being you Dad.