When Mother’s Day Isn’t Happy

Michael A. Bogrov, MD is a psychiatrist board certified in general, child and adolescent psychiatry.

It’s that time of year: The airwaves and Internet are flooded with reminders that we should all appreciate the love, sacrifice and leadership of the moms around us on Mother’s Day. These reminders show scenes of joy, with breakfast in bed, and flowers, and with thoughtful gifts and hugs and smiling faces.

But Mother’s Day isn’t always a cause for celebration. For some, it’s a reminder of the loss of a child, of challenges conceiving, or of the loss of their own mothers. And, for these people Mother’s Day can stir up feelings of grief, sadness, or depression. These are feelings many of us have experienced, but still remain difficult to discuss.

If You’re Grieving or Feeling Sad

Take time during the day to allow yourself to experience those feelings and share what you’re experiencing with friends and family.

If you have children, managing grief or sadness in the midst of Mother’s Day celebrations can be especially challenging. It’s healthy for children to see you express these emotions, and to share with your children that you’re feeling sad. Sharing feelings can help you to process them effectively. Showing your family that it’s normal to feel sad sometimes will help them build their own resilience. It teaches them that asking for support from people who care about you is a sign of strength and courage.

If You’re Feeling Depressed

The emotional challenges that can come with Mother’s Day have deeply personal roots, and may cause feelings that go beyond grief or sadness. If you are questioning and your self-worth or usefulness, or if things seem far beyond your control, you may be experiencing depression. As with grief and sadness, it is important to identify feelings and allow yourself to ask for help. Depression isn’t something you just get over. Support is needed. It is not unusual to be anxious about talking to your doctor or seeking support for your loved ones.

If You Know Someone Struggling

Many of us have friends or family members who struggle during Mother’s Day weekend. Reaching out to those people can feel like a delicate task, but being able to share those emotions with a trusted friend can be very helpful. Feeling isolated with negative emotions can be far more painful than being able to share, so give your friend room to be sad and acknowledge their pain and sadness. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let someone know you’re thinking about them, that you sympathize or even empathize with what they’re going through , and that you’re available if they need someone to talk to or spend time with.

Mother’s Day won’t always be a happy day for everyone. But no matter whether the day brings joy or sadness, it’s a time to share a little extra love and support with those who are struggling. Whatever your Mother’s Day has in store, we wish you a peaceful holiday.

If you are in need of psychiatric or counseling services, contact Inova Behavioral Health at 703-289-7560.

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