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When Mother's Day is Complicated by Grief

Every year I must go between the emotions of great joy that I am a mother of a wonderful daughter and the daughter of a not-so-wonderful mother. This is hard for me to put into words, as the battle to be accepted by my mom started before I was born.

As she was a young mom, I understood it was an unwanted pregnancy. However, I never felt wanted, even to this day. I have always felt rejected and misunderstood by my mom. Moms are supposed to be our biggest cheerleaders, love us unconditionally, and be there in the most challenging times of our lives. Unfortunately, this has not been my experience.

So, when Mother's Day comes up each year, it is a time of grieving for me. I am reminded that I wish things were different or I had more from her.

I see all the beautiful posts about how amazing moms can be for others and often wonder why that is not a reality for me. I have forgiven her for being unable to be there for me emotionally. However, it still brings up unwanted negative feelings.

Most of my adulthood took me to learn how to forgive her and accept that she can't give me what she does not have. I have tried numerous times to wipe the slate clean and start again, only to be disappointed.

If you have a less-than-loving relationship with your mom, or if your mom was unable and can still not give you what you need, I want to offer tools that helped me recover.

1. God Is Our Parent

We often think of God only as our Father, which is biblically and theologically accurate. However, He is everything and all we need. He is not only our wise, protective, and providing Father; he is, in a sense, our nurturing, always available, unconditionally loving Father. He is present with everything we need. Isaiah 66:13 Matthew 23:37

The word is entirely sufficient as we face various situations. When I need to forgive my mom as new things arise, I look at passages about forgiveness. 30 Verses on Forgiveness

I am reminded of the great saints in the Bible who chose to forgive great crimes. Such as Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery. (Podcast Episode on Joesph) We often see in scripture God using the evil that Satan intends in our lives for our good and His glory.

Today I can help others in less-than-loving relationships overcome their grief and pain. When we recognize that a perfect heavenly Father loves us so much and has had His loving hand upon us even in the heartache of what we have endured, it helps us forgive and grow—tool number two.

2. Purpose In The Pain

When I realized that God has a purpose and plan for my life, even though I endured such pain, it helped me take the focus off of myself and how I can help others. (Romans 8:28) With my pain now having a purpose, I can more easily forgive my mom and learn to trust God in ways I couldn’t before.

When I was young, I questioned God for allowing such atrocities to happen to me. I did not understand how allowing me to endure so much at a young age was beneficial; I had PTSD, anxiety, and depression that immobilized me. How was this good for me or anyone around me?

However, those years of trial and tribulation are what God used to develop me into the woman I am today. I now have a deep, trusting faith walk with God that I could never have had. I have been more conformed to the image of Christ. I learned perseverance, character, integrity, how to have joy in any situation, peace beyond my understanding, and so much more. Nothing in the world could have developed this in me the way God used my circumstances to do it.

Taking my eyes off the pain and placing them on how I can help others started the path for my healing. There is something powerful about knowing what you have gone through and are still going through has a purpose. (Bible Verses on Pain with Purpose)

3. Grief Recovery

Through God's word and the Holy Spirit, I have experienced much inner healing. I was already helping others and continuing to heal. However, because I still had interactions with my mom, either old wounds would resurface, or new ones would be created. I would be in a constant state of forgiveness and healing.

One day, a sister in Christ told me about the Grief Recovery Method and that she was having a class. My father had just passed away, so I thought taking the course would be a great time. She mentioned how it helped her deal with the death of a parent.

Little did I know the Holy Spirit was leading me to take this class not for my dad's death but rather for my relationship with my mom, who was still alive.

I realized I still had dreams, hopes, and expectations that were not being met. I was dreaming that my mom would change; I was hoping it would all turn around someday, and I had expectations that she would be able to love me. These unmet feelings kept me in grief, which I didn't realize I had. The class taught me that grief is not just for death and dying. It is for any relationship that we have had in our lives.

I learned grief is cumulative, and the feelings cumulate with each death, painful event, or change of circumstances. As a result, we don't even realize it's affecting every aspect of our lives in some way. We eventually become weighed down and often do not realize it’s the lifetime of losses that have us stuck.

I now have an action-based toolset that stays with me forever. When old memories flood me or new situations arise with my mom, I have a healthy method of dealing with them to move past them quickly and not allow old patterns to come to the surface.

Today, as we approach Mother's Day, it is still not a celebration for me. I am grateful to be a mom. I am blessed to have raised a wonderful daughter who is healthy and whole. However, I still mourn that I do not have a close, loving relationship with my mother. Although I cannot write mushy Mother's Day posts on Facebook, today, I can celebrate for others what they have or have had with their moms. I understand that my mom gave me what she had, and I forgave her. I do not have to hide my feelings or pretend, as I used to, that everything was picture perfect. In total honesty, Mother's Day is hard for me, but I celebrate it for others. I celebrate for my daughter. I am also a spiritual mom to many young women, and I cherish them! I am blessed to have taken my pain and given it a purpose.

If Mother’s Day is hard for you, you are not alone. Reach out to me. I would love to pray for you.


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