FREE SHIPPING On All USA Orders Over $45! (No Code Needed)
Blog Post Image showing 2 women hugging and an orange text box with the words "10 Ways To Support Someone Who's Struggling Emotionally on Mother's Day". Blog post by Sunny Day Designs.

10 Ways To Support Someone Who's Struggling Emotionally On Mother's Day

10 Ways To Support Someone Who's Struggling Emotionally On Mother's Day


Holidays can bring up complex emotions for some people - especially when they center around relationships or experiences that are not universally shared by everyone.

For some people, Mother's Day can feel painful, stressful, or even sad; for others, it's a special and exciting day that they look forward to celebrating every year!

However you're feeling about Mother's Day, please know that it's perfectly okay and healthy to acknowledge whatever emotions you're experiencing.

There is no right or wrong way to feel about this holiday and now right or wrong way to celebrate it.

 

The Complicated Origins Of Mother's Day

In fact...did you know that Mother's Day was originally started in 1908 by Anna Jarvis as a way for the founder to honor her deceased mother's memory?

Surprisingly, even Jarvis herself also had extremely complicated feelings about the holiday that she created!

In 1914, just a handful of years after she began celebrating it, Mother's Day was named an official holiday in the USA by President Woodrow Wilson.

However, soon after gaining its official status, Mother's Day quickly morphed into a highly-commercialized celebration (instead of the personal, intimate family tradition that she had originally envisioned the holiday would represent).

Jarvis deeply regretted being involved in the start of such a holiday. So much so, that she spent the rest of her life (and the rest of her savings) campaigning to remove the holiday from the official calendar of U.S. holidays.

She was unsuccessful.

 

A fresh bouquet arrangement of white flowers is pictured inside a mason jar vase.

 

Is It Wrong To Celebrate On Mother's Day?

Mother's Day can be a great way to celebrate some of the important relationships in your life, in fact, you may have lots of great memories from this holiday.

You may even find yourself confused because your own positive emotions towards Mother's Day could feel very different from the negative emotions that someone else in your life is feeling. 

Remember: that's completely okay! In fact, it's great that you've found a holiday that you love and that resonates with you and your family.

It certainly doesn't mean that you should feel guilty for feeling joyful on this holiday.

But... it also doesn't mean that someone who is feeling overwhelmed needs to put on a happy face on Mother's Day if they're feeling sad, grieving, or are emotionally conflicted.

Finding out that someone is struggling with their feelings about Mother's Day is a great opportunity to practice kindness and understanding towards others who experience different life situations than our own.

 

Encouraging Empathy and Understanding

Let's explore why some people may feel sad during this holiday.

Here are a few reasons why people you know may feel sad, depressed, or emotional on Mother's Day:

  • Their mother has passed away (especially if it happened recently)
  • Previous miscarriage(s), still birth(s), or infant loss
  • Being estranged from either their mother or their children
  • Step-mothers and foster moms often feel excluded/unsure of their place during this holiday
  • Children whose mother died in childbirth often feel guilty
  • Women and couples who are struggling with infertility may feel depressed
  • Women who experienced family trauma or childhood abuse often have complex feelings about their own family relationships
  • Mothers of a child/children who have passed away sometimes question if they're still "worthy" of the title "mother"
  • Some feel angry or confused that they don't know their birth mother's identity
  • Women who previously gave up a child for adoption may feel regret, sadness, guilt, or anxiety
Of course, there are many additional scenarios that could make celebrating Mother's Day difficult. I've started by listing a few reasons, just to get you thinking about the people you know and who may be struggling in silence.

 

Turquoise, yellow, and orange striped cotton baker's twine is shown in a heart shape on a white background

 

Our Company's Viewpoint

As the owner of Sunny Day Designs, a company that creates and designs baby products, among other things - and as a person who knows MANY people in the categories listed above - I try my best to be aware and sensitive to the full range of emotions that this type of holiday can potentially stir up.

On the other hand, I do personally like to acknowledge my own mother on this holiday and I celebrate those who enjoy Mother's Day celebrations and activities.

While I have no children of my own, I feel blessed that my mother is alive and that I  have a close relationship with her.

I also have 2 sisters with young children of their own, several aunts who have been important parts of my life, and I have many friends and cousins who have embraced the ups and downs of motherhood in their own life journeys.

While this holiday doesn't honor me or my current roles in life, I enjoy being a part of the celebration so that I can acknowledge and thank others in my life who are mothers.

 

However, I can also easily empathize with those who struggle with this holiday.

My father's mother passed away when he was around 4 years old. He never really got a chance to know her and, in many ways, his sister stepped in to fill that role for him. It was challenging for him to grow up without his mother.

As a result, I never knew my paternal grandmother. However, from an early age, I was taught that, just because you may not be someone's "mom" doesn't mean that you can't provide them with motherly support. Because of that, my aunt and her daughter often accompanied us when we took my mother out for brunch on Mother's Day and we honored my aunt on Mother's Day, in addition to my own mother.

My mother's mom was a single parent for much of her childhood, since my mother's father also passed away when she was young. Likewise, I was young myself when my grandmother passed away, so I cherish the few memories that I have of her. Death can certainly leave a void that's difficult to fill, regardless of how old you are at the time that someone passes.

Additionally, I know many people who have endured the suffering and heartache of having a miscarriage and I also know a few who have, sadly, lost an infant soon after birth.

On the other spectrum, I also have several friends who have struggled with the emotional pain of infertility. Some have found a happy ending in adoption, welcoming a rainbow baby, or undergoing successful IVF treatments, while others are still working through the healing process or trying to decide how to move forward.

 

Rainbow Baby art print and nursery decor

 

Several friends of mine have parents who are divorced (and a few have re-married), which makes their relationships with their parents and/or step-parents a bit more complicated. Some of my friends are currently estranged from their mothers.

I also know many friends who have endured the pain of losing a mother in childhood or early adulthood. No matter if this happens due to an accident or an illness, the pain runs deep and can be long-lasting.

Additionally, I recently met someone that tragically lost her teen grandchild (the only child of her only child) to a drug overdose; she and her daughter are still grieving and are trying to make sense of the fact that their previously active roles as a "grandmother" and a "mother" feel as if they were virtually "erased" overnight. Finding meaning in life after a tragedy like that can feel so heavy.

When people that you love pass away, sometimes it can feel difficult to be flooded with feelings and memories of them. Of course, there are usually many good memories, but you may find yourself frequently wondering what your life would feel like if they were still alive. Since humans often define themselves based on their relationships to others, loss and grief can cause you to question what your own "role" is in life, sometimes long after they're gone.

 

If you're struggling, it may seem as if society is telling you that you must celebrate Mother's Day a specific way. But I'm here to tell you there is no right way and no wrong way to experience a holiday.

It's okay to not feel like celebrating.

It's also okay to feel excited for this holiday.

Each of us has a very different life story, filled with unique twists and turns. The key is to be aware of (and to pay attention to) how others around us are feeling on this holiday - in addition to honoring and reflecting on how we're feeling about this holiday ourselves.

 

How You Can Help Someone Else

I guarantee that helping someone else who is struggling will also improve your own Mother's Day experience.

You'll feel a deeper sense of perspective and will feel good about helping someone else who is going through a tough time.

A little bit of kindness can go a long way.

So, in an effort to approach this holiday with a healthy dose of kindness and a whole lot of empathy, I've come up with a list of ideas that I hope you'll find inspiring and, perhaps, even motivating:

 

Two young women hugging each other outside in a park

 

10 Ways To Support Someone Who's Struggling Emotionally On Mother's Day

 

1. Reach out to them a few days beforehand to ask them how they're feeling. If they're grieving and they feel like talking, be an active listener. If they're not interested in sharing much, let them know that's okay too.

Let that you're there for them if they need anything or want to talk in the future. Keep the door open for communication on their terms.

 

2. Let them know you're thinking of them on the actual holiday. Send them an empathetic text message, a caring email, or even call them on the phone for a quick chat (whichever option makes them feel most comfortable).

Knowing that you took the time out of your day to check in with them will mean so much to them.

 

3. Acknowledge that their feelings are perfectly healthy and that you understand why they may have complex feelings on Mother's Day. They should not feel shame or guilt for whatever emotions they're having.

Simply hearing this from another person can help them feel validated, supported, and understood.

 

4. Send them an empathetic greeting card with a heartfelt note written inside. A greeting card is always an unexpected and welcome surprise!

Choose a card that lets them know that you're thinking of them and sending your support. Make sure the message/tone of the card applies to their specific situation as well. The last thing you want to do is give them a card that will make them feel worse or misunderstood.

Below, I've listed a few links to some of our own greeting cards below that may be a good fit (based on some specific situations). But I encourage you to search for a unique card that applies to whatever life event or emotions they're experiencing.

Shopping Tip: Search for a card online or check out your local stationery store or gift shop, since they often have a wider range of unique cards than your typical big-box store carries.

 

Here are a few greeting card ideas from Sunny Day Designs that may work:

 

From The Heart sympathy greeting card features colorful, heartfelt text that lets you know you're there to support them through trauma, infant loss, miscarriage, grief, and more.
Far Apart but Close In Heart greeting card features a turquoise heart and is well-suited for long distance messages

 

  • Our Stitched Tulips greeting card has a message that works well for step-mothers, grandmothers, foster moms, aunts, or anyone else who helped raise you but may not fall under the traditional "mom" or "mother" label:
A floral themed gratitude greeting card that is perfect to give to mothers, teachers, and more - featuring colorful orange, pink, and yellow tulips against a white background with green handlettered text (above flowers) that says "Thank you for helping me grow". Perfect for Step-mothers, foster moms, grandmothers, teachers, moms, and more!
Hang In there bat-themed greeting card. Perfect for sending lighthearted notes of encouragement during tough times of life.
  • Our Sympathy Sunset greeting card is a nice card to send when someone loses a close family member, such as a child, mother, grandmother, step-mother, or friend:
This Sunset-themed sympathy greeting card is a nice way to send a message to someone who has recently lost a friend, family member.

 

5. Make plans to spend a small part of the day with them (if they're up for it). Some people find it helpful to have someone there with them in-person to distract them so that they don't feel alone.

Plan a fun, non-traditional Mother's Day activity that will keep their mind off of their emotions during the holiday.

Tip: I don't recommend taking them out to eat, since there are likely to be many moms/families out celebrating at restaurants, which will likely cause difficult feelings to resurface in a very public place. I also recommend avoiding alcohol, since that can intensify difficult emotions.

 

Here are a few ideas of fun activities you can do together:

  • Do something active, fun, and unexpected - drive go carts, ride horses, play laser tag, go miniature golfing, take a hike through the woods, or head to an ice skating rink!
  • Play a fun board game together, create something together through an arts and crafts project, or help them with a project around the house that they've been putting off. Doing these activities will give them a sense of accomplishment and will provide you with something to physically do or create so that they're not just forced to spend the entire time talking or thinking about their feelings.
  • Volunteer together in your local community to pick up litter, work at a soup kitchen, stock/organize a food pantry, or help out at another non-profit (ideally one that is not mother-themed). Helping others can give you a boost of positive energy and will help to get their mind off of what's bothering them.

 

A pair of hands holding a cardboard box filled with non-parishable food donations that will be going to a local food pantry.

 

6. Put together a small care package and mail it to them in advance. Including a few snacks, a cozy blanket, and a 1-person activity that they would enjoy (such as a positive book that's easy-to-read, a collection of crossword puzzles, a jigsaw puzzle, or a craft kit).

Having an activity that they can do on their own can be helpful and comforting if they're feeling sad and are in need of a distraction on Mother's Day. It also reinforces the fact that it's okay if they want to spend the day at home alone.

 

7. If they've lost their mother or their child, make an effort to you say their loved one's name out loud and to share some positive memories of the one that they're missing. It can be comforting for someone simply to hear others acknowledge and speak the name of their loved one after they've passed away.

 

8. Do your best to avoid talking in excess about your own Mother's Day plans especially if you plan to spend them with your mother, your children, etc. It's important to practice awareness about how your words can make others feel, even if you intend no harm.

Even something as cliché as complaining about your mother-in-law can feel painful to someone who is alone on Mother's Day, feeling grief, or who is struggling with an estrangement from their own family.

 

9. Keep in mind that there are many young children who have lost their mothers or who have never had a relationship with their birth mother. If you'd like to help, consider privately talking to their living parent or current caregiver to show your support and to see if there is anything you might be able to do to help them or their family out on Mother's Day. However, be prepared that it's possible they may tell you they do not need any assistance.

 

10. Let them know you're there to listen if they want to talk. And then, even more importantly...make sure to follow through and be there for them if they do ask to take you up on your offer to chat.

A pair of hands braiding a homemade pie crust against a blue background

 

Bonus Idea: Do you like to cook or bake? If you have a neighbor or a friend who recently lost their wife, child, mother, or grandmother and is grieving on Mother's Day - consider baking them a pie/dessert or making them a dinner casserole to show that you're thinking about them.

Drop it off at their home the day before Mother's Day with a heartfelt note letting them know you're thinking of them during this difficult time of the year. Even better - ask them in advance if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions that you should follow when cooking. You could also get them a gift card to a local restaurant if that seems like an easier option!

 

I hope this list gives you some ideas of thoughtful ways that you can show kindness and understanding to anyone who is grieving or feeling sad about Mother's Day this year!

Feel free to share this blog post with anyone who you think would enjoy it or find value.

Together, let's spread as much kindness and empathy as we can!

 

Wishing you comforting thoughts, a joyful spirit & kindness of heart.

 

Shelley

Owner & Designer - Sunny Day Designs

Shop the story