Here’s how I’ve learned to cope on Mother’s Day

Dear Motherless Daughters

As Mother’s Day nears, I want to be with you, make you tea, and chat about everything. I would love to know more about your mom. Her name. Her laughter. This was the worst fight you have ever had. Maybe our closeness can help us share some of our grief — any way to lighten the burden.

It’s exhausting, it’s true.

I know. When I was 17, my mom was diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer. My parents brought me home that night to tell my brother and me about their diagnosis. Mom wept and repeated the doctor’s words, “Two Months to Live.”

“Let this holiday be a time to reflect on your grief and take stock of your healing. And remember your mother, who is truly special.”

I was obsessed with boyfriends and the perfect prom dress as a high school senior. Graduation was my goal. My plans didn’t include Mom’s diagnosis, so I stopped talking to her. It was as if she might be less hurt if I killed her immediately.

She survived for two and a quarter years, beating her prognosis of two months. This was our worst experience, but it would be the turning point in our relationship. We grew closer to each other and became close friends.

Marisa Bardach Ramel suggests that if Mother’s Day is a concern, you can flip through old photos to remind you how much you are loved.

We also co-authored “The Goodbye Diaries”, alternating chapters that shared our perspectives on our experiences with our daughter’s illness and our bond as mother-daughter. Our story took me 18 years to complete. I held on to my mother’s story by putting it together after her passing. Publishing it this month will mean letting her go. As I speak to people about my book, my mom, and my current life as a mother, I realize that this chapter is a new chapter in my healing from the grief that has kept me captive for so long.

It isn’t easy to believe that this Sunday will mark my seventeenth Mother’s Day, even though I’m a mother. It will not go away. But, I can promise you that it will shift.

Here are some things I’ve learned to cope with Mother’s Day. I hope they can comfort you.

Anticipation is the worst thing.

Marisa Bardach Ramel shares this photo of her and her three-day-old daughter as “Last Year’s Mother’s Day Gift: My Three-Day-Old Daughter, and the Mother-Daughter Bond Born anew.”

Some brands allow bereaved mothers to opt-out of Mother’s Day marketing. However, the gift suggestions, brunch reservations, and spa deals can drive a motherless daughter crazy.

Don’t even consider going to a pharmacy. Don’t even think about going to a pharmacy if you run out of shampoo.

The bright side is that the weeks leading to the holiday are often more difficult than the actual day, which gives you the sweet relief of a 24-hour countdown until it’s over. Monday will not be more popular.

You can make a plan but don’t be afraid of breaking it.

Visualizing your day can help you relax, whether you are visiting family, going to the cemetery or binge-watching “Gilmore Girls”; it doesn’t matter what you do, imagine how you will spend it.

If you decide to do something completely different on Sunday morning or do nothing, that’s okay.

Children can help you get through your grief, but they won’t make it disappear.

Marisa Bardach Ramel and her children at the gravesite of her mother.

My son was born just days before my mother’s monthiversary, and my daughter was born right before Mother’s Day.

Instead of trying to put it in a happy or sad bucket, accept the dual nature of the holiday.

Social media can be used to help and not to hurt.

Marisa Bardach Ramel in a throwback photo with her mother.

It takes willpower to choose not to participate in Mother’s Day.

Instead, I upload a photo of Mom in the early morning and then take solace in the comments and the shared memories. Scrolling is not allowed.

Let the holiday evolve.

Marisa Bardach Ramel is pictured with her book “The Goodbye Diaries – A Mother-Daughter Memoryir.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be this painful every year. Sometimes, the opposite is true. A year that was easier may lead to a harder one.

Life milestones and healing can help you move on from grief. Last Mother’s Day, I was able to marvel at my three-day-old daughter and refuse to feel sorry for my mom. Point #3 was not something I understood.

Mother’s Day falls on the same day as the publication of “The Goodbye Diaries,” the memoir that my mom and I wrote together. I expected to feel happy. Instead, I feel heartbroken that she isn’t here to celebrate with me.

Yet, I hope my book journey will take me to a different place next Mother’s Day.

Take the time to grieve, reflect on your healing and remember your mother.

Please reread the above from the top for mom’s monthiversary and birthday. All the rules are the same, but they’re not as helpful. But I’m here to help you throughout the year. This is the beauty of motherless daughters: We have one another.



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