Identity

Women Who Lost Their Moms Talk About Mother's Day

"When she was still alive, I often showed her how important she was to me, but Mother’s Day was always a special moment to be aware of that and be grateful for it."
May 10, 2018, 5:08pm
All photos from the personal archives of each interviewee.

A version of this article originally appeared on Broadly Netherlands in May 2017.

Though many may see Mother's Day as another holiday invented by companies to rake in money, I like celebrating it. Every year, I give my mom a gift and we go out to dinner with the whole family. The older I get, the more grateful I am for my parents. Mother's Day also makes me think about people who have lost their mothers, and how they may experience the holiday—by using it to honor their moms or take time for themselves or do nothing at all. So, I asked six women who have lost their mothers about what the holiday is like for them.

Hazel (27), lost her mom to suicide seven years ago

Ever since my mom passed away, there's been a hole in my life that gets bigger during holidays. I feel lonely every year on Mother’s Day.

When she was still alive, I often showed her how important she was to me, but Mother’s Day was always a special moment to be aware of that and be grateful for it. I have a child now and I’m pregnant. Even though my own kid gives me presents and my husband tries really hard, my mom’s death still overshadows everything. On Mother’s Day, I retreat and take time for myself to remember my mom. Yeah, I hate Mother’s Day.

If she were still here, I’d love to do something fun with her today—like going to Antwerp or Bruges. Just walk around, get something to eat, talk to each other—spending time together.

Miriam (20), lost her mom to a brain tumor two years ago

When my mom died, I lost the most important person in my life. My dad died when I was four years old. From the time I was 18 years old, nobody understood me the way my mom had. I was her main priority, and now there's no one left who gives me what she used to give me.

So to me, it’s important to think about your mom and how important she is—not just on Mother’s Day. That’s what I used to always do. We did always get together on Mother’s Day; I gave her a present or I made breakfast. Now, I try to take the day to be aware of all the things she did for me, and I try to remember the beautiful stuff instead of spiraling into negativity. My parents are gone and that’s not easy, but my life is just as beautiful as it was before. I’m still young, so why would I allow this to ruin the rest of my life?

Suus (23), lost her mom when she was three years old

My mom suffered from postpartum depression and committed suicide when I was still very young, so we never celebrated Mother’s Day together. At school they made us do craft projects for Mother’s Day. I always made something and gave it to my grandmother, my mom’s mom.

When a stepmom came into my life at the end of elementary school, I started giving her the little gifts I had made. It felt like a natural thing to do. But thinking back to it, I’d much rather have given those gifts to my grandmother. She was much closer to my actual mom.

Now, Mother’s Day is just like any other Sunday to me. This year I have a field hockey game. My dad calls his mom every year, but we never get together as a family. In February, it was the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death. I took a moment to reflect on that by calling my dad. That was an exception, because we usually don’t talk about my mom and her passing all that much.

Laura (32), lost her mom when she was 23 years old

My mom was sick for six years, so we had six "extra" years. In those last years we paid more attention to Mother’s Day, because we knew that she was living on borrowed time. Before that, I always thought it was a bit of a hassle—now I miss it and wish we could still do something.

Since my mom died, I take Mother’s Day more seriously than I did before. Especially now that I have kids of my own, I know how important this day can be for a mom. So no, I don’t look forward to it. This year it’s especially hard because she died ten years ago and would've turned 60 this year. I would've loved to be able to see her and bring her the yellow roses she used to love so much. I'd want to thank her for being my mom and more than anything, I’d want to tell her that I love her.

Gerlieke and Marian (twins, age 30), lost their mom to breast cancer when they were 29 years old

Marian: Our mom was sick for four years, but we didn’t really notice it for three years because she was doing well. When she died, it was complicated—of course we wanted to keep our mom close to us, but her body was done, so it was time. I miss her every day. But we have lots of nice moments to look back on.

Gerlieke: We never made a big deal out of Mother’s Day. We definitely celebrated in some way, but it wasn’t the only day we showed our mom how much she meant to us. This year, I think we’ll take a moment to remember her and take flowers to her grave.

Marian: But we don’t miss her more on official holidays than on any other day. It’s always there.

Gerlieke: Luckily, Marian and I are very close and we talk to each other everyday. Now that our dad is also sick, we have to depend on one another more. We really support each other.