What NOT to say on Mother’s Day

by Dr. Qu'Nesha Sawyer

by Dr. Qu'Nesha Sawyer

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Mother’s Day is usually viewed as a celebratory day, 

a day for us to honor and show gratitude for the maternal figures in our lives. But not everyone is excited about Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day can stir up many complicated feelings, and whether those feelings are due to the loss of a child, mother, or a strained relationship with someone, it’s never easy to sit with this grief.

You may not always know or understand the challenges someone faces on Mother’s Day unless they tell you. But we’ve included some helpful tips on how to support a loved one who may not be looking forward to Mother’s Day.

1. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to every woman you see

While we may mean well, we may be unintentionally hurting or insulting someone by saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” Take an extra second to think about your greeting, especially if you don’t know someone very well. 

2. Meet them where they are

Grief is not linear and there is no “right” way to grieve. You don’t need to “fix” or try to cheer up your loved one (unless they ask, of course!). Rather, it’s important to just show up for them without judgment or advice.

3. Find different ways to acknowledge the day

It’s helpful to spend some time learning what your loved one desires for the day. Use that information to support your loved one’s decision to make meaning of the day in a way that honors their needs.

4. Continue to show up

While time usually helps most of us cope with our grief, it’s important to remember that grief doesn’t stop just because the holiday passes. Continue to check on your loved one and demonstrate your commitment to walking alongside them as they navigate this journey!

There are many reasons Mother’s Day can be hard for someone and the four tips above provide a starting point on how to show up for those you care about. Remember that simple acknowledgment and love can go a long way. When in doubt, just be there and listen.

field of flowers

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