Once the holidays near, it seems like the world gets swept up in the hustle and bustle of the season. The twinkling lights, the freshly fallen snow and favorite recipes on the stove, the hope and happiness filling the air in anticipation of celebrating with those you love.
But if your mother has passed away, the most wonderful time of the year can feel anything but. Getting through the holiday season without your mom—whether it’s the first year you’re facing it or you’ve had years of experience living with the ache of her loss—is hard.
Coping With Holiday Grief
For a motherless daughter, coping with the grief of losing your mom is an ongoing journey. As Christmas Day nears, the emotions surrounding her absence may feel even more pronounced. Sadness, however normal it may be (and it’s normal!), can eclipse the joy of the season . . . something you know, in your heart of hearts, your mom wouldn’t want for you. All those family traditions you celebrated together will take on a different feel as you create new memories without her physical presence.
But how do you get through the pain and give yourself permission to celebrate and create happy memories with the people you love? How do you honor her life without letting depression creep into your holiday celebrations? How do you embrace the gift of a new year while part of you longs only for the past . . . the one with her still in it, before all the tears?
It takes intention, loads of grace, and the sisterhood of so many other daughters missing their mothers.
Acknowledge Your Pain
One of the hardest things about grief is the pressure we put on ourselves to hide it, to seem like we’re fine while our hearts are breaking—especially during the holidays. We throw ourselves into busy schedules, helping others, and avoiding the elephant in the room that’s shaped like pain.
But acknowledging your sadness doesn’t make you weak—it makes you human. And you’re not the only one with a hurting heart. Taking the time to remember the family spending their first Thanksgiving or Christmas without their loved one honors the memory of those who aren’t sitting at the table this year, and can make you all feel a little less alone.
When the holidays are hard, look for the love and allow it to multiply.
Cry Those Tears
Decorating the Christmas tree is supposed to be joyful and full of magic, but sometimes it only brings tears. Pulling out your favorite decorations reminds you of the stories she told about that thumbprint snowman you made when you were five, or the special grandma ornament she proudly displayed front and center every year. You might feel a familiar pit in your stomach when you open the holiday storage bins full of memories tied so inextricably to her—and it can leave you feeling like the Grinch.
And you know what? That’s OK. Because burying your sadness only makes it bubble up when you least expect it. Letting yourself cry those tears, letting other people close to you hold your aching heart? It allows you to be loved by the people who long to do just that, especially at Christmastime. It’s vulnerable and brave to admit the holidays are extra hard, but it’s part of healing—and you’ll find, in the people you love, there’s a soft place to land you didn’t know was waiting.
Remember The Magic
When you’ve lost your mom, it can leave you wondering how you’ll ever be able to mother your children without your own. But don’t forget—she showed you how in the way she loved you first.
It’s no secret moms are usually the creators of Christmas magic. Se fills the stockings. She fills the mugs with hot cocoa and mini marshmallows. She bakes the cookies and lights the candles that fill a child’s memories with warmth and love long after she’s grown.
And it’s OK to remember that magic and smile, even in your grief. Because everything you do now for your own kids to make the holidays magical? It’s because she made them magical for you first, and that’s a beautiful legacy.
Hold On To Hellos From Heaven
Having a mom in Heaven leaves you thinking about her life on Earth often—but what’s it like for her up there now? Is she singing carols with choirs of angels? Is she looking down on the ones here left behind? Is she sending you signs of her undying love?
Even though you’ll always want one more of her hugs and to hear her laugh just once more, you learn to take comfort in the fact that she’s healthy and whole—and waiting with open arms to hold you one day in Paradise.
Take It One Day At a Time
Time is a funny thing. Some days, you’ll feel like it was just yesterday your mom was laughing with you across a table and a cup of coffee; other days you’ll wonder how you’ve survived this eternity without her in your daily life.
But whether you’re facing your first holiday season without your mother or you’ve made it through dozens, the only way through is to take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.
Your mom will always hold a special place in your heart. You’ll get through the holidays without her, you’ll start new traditions, you’ll make new memories—but you will always cherish her. And you just know she’s smiling down from Heaven as you do.