By Lindsay Harrison
Author of Missing
Surviving a holiday in the wake of losing a parent is always difficult. In the six years since my mother’s untimely death, Mother’s Day has been a particularly bittersweet affair for me. In the weeks leading up to this Mother’s Day, my email inbox has been bombarded with no fewer than 50 offers for Mother’s Day gifts. Sure, I would like to give my mother a hot stone massage, a bouquet of flowers, or a box of chocolates, but I don’t have that luxury anymore. Living Social even sent me an offer to take my mom on a Sex and the City walking tour. Time Out New York suggested a disco brunch. While I have no choice but to quickly delete these emails, they fill me with a pang of regret.
I know that I am not alone in this struggle. For all of us who have lost a loved one, and are sadly reminded of that loss on holidays, I have a few suggestions.
1. Celebrate the living. If there was a silver lining to losing my mother, it was that the tragedy brought my father, my brothers, and me much closer. We now talk on the phone on a regular basis, and I know that I can always turn to them for advice. The essence of Mother’s Day is the celebration of family—so let your loved ones know how important they are to you.
2. Pay it forward. One year for Christmas, my mother gave me an entire bag of socks. There were striped socks, fuzzy socks, Santa socks, cashmere socks—you name it. I don’t know what possessed my mom to give me so many socks, but I do remember how hard we laughed when I tore open the wrapping paper. This year, I think I’ll gift some socks to my friends. Whatever it may be, honor your special relationship with a fun gesture that recalls a favorite memory.
3. Acknowledge your role models. I may not have my mom around anymore, but I do have an amazing supporting cast of aunts, mentors, and female friends. Focus on the positive role models in your life, and let them know how much they mean to you.
4. Treat yourself. Buy that discounted massage offer for yourself, or go out for a disco brunch with friends. Above all, I know that my mom would want me to be happy, and as this holiday approaches, I plan on pampering myself a little bit.
5. Surround yourself with love. This coming Sunday, my dear friend Cassidy is coming into the city with her mother to see a photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Cassidy sat beside me, holding my hand when I got the dreadful phone call that my mother had died. She has been a source of constant support and friendship in my life, and I can think of no better way to spend Mother’s Day than strolling through a beautiful museum while catching up with Cassidy and her mom. You don’t have to weather the holidays alone. Surround yourself with love.
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