Special Ways to Honor Mothers Who Have Passed

May 15, 2018

Holidays can be tough times when you’ve lost a family member. Facing Mother’s Day without mom feels especially poignant, when the one person you’re supposed to be celebrating is painfully absent. Grief experts like Dr. Gail Saltz, writing on , advise us to embrace those feelings of sadness as a necessary part of the experience. “There’s no need to pretend it is not a melancholy time for you, “she advises. “It’s OK to … acknowledge that you are sad and miss your mother.” At the same time, it’s a healthy impulse to want to honor mom in some way – and there are lots of meaningful options that can help you feel more connected to her and tap into happy memories. Here are some ideas to think about:

Pay mom a visit: Is there a place you feel especially close to your mother – the beach, or her favorite park? Spend some time in a spot that makes it easier to feel close to her.

Do something that’s uniquely “her”: The Mother’s Day after my mom passed away, I rented a favorite movie of hers that I had never seen. Stretch yourself and connect with something that defined her, whether it’s taking a crack at her beloved Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle or streaming her favorite show tunes.

Dip into Mom’s closet: If you’re able to, wear a piece of mom’s jewelry or an accessory – or pass one along to a spouse or daughter.

Cook like mom: Did your mother have a signature recipe or two? Celebrate her by cooking up one of her favorites for your family. Or bake a batch of her best cookies and share them with your neighbors.

Give to a cause she loved: Whether it’s writing a check or donating a few hours of your time, it can feel uplifting to support a cause that you know Mom cared deeply about.

Teach your children: If you have kids, spend some time teaching them a craft or activity you and your mom shared a passion for. Bird watching, knitting, bike riding – take an hour or two to invite them into an experience that will be fun for them and bring back happy memories!

Plant new memories: Watching things grow can be a huge part of any healing process. Plant something that connects with mom in some way – an herb garden, if she loved to cook; lilacs that flower around Mother’s Day; or her favorite cutting flowers.

Show yourself some love: Finally, your mom would want you to take some time off to do what you need today – so be intentional about carving out time to nurture yourself a bit. Let someone else take care of dinner; binge watch that show you’ve been dying to see; or take the proverbial spa day. What better way to celebrate your mom than giving yourself what she would want for you!

For more thoughts on Mother’s Day without mom, head to