When Mother’s Day Hurts: Honouring Emotions and Prioritising Mental Health

Mother's Day, celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the UK, is a day to recognise and appreciate mothers and motherly figures. Shop windows overflow with flowers and chocolates, social media feeds are flooded with sentimental messages, and families come together for special meals or outings. However, Mother's Day is a day of mixed emotions for many. It can be a time of joy and gratitude for those with loving and supportive mothers. But for others, it can be a painful reminder of loss, strained relationships, or the absence of a mother figure altogether.

This article is for anyone who finds Mother's Day to be an emotionally complex experience. Whether you're grieving the loss of your mother, navigating a challenging relationship, or simply feeling overwhelmed by societal expectations, you're not alone. Here, we'll explore the diverse emotions surrounding Mother's Day, offer suggestions for honouring the maternal figures in your life, and provide tips on prioritising your mental health during this potentially challenging time.

The Emotional Landscape of Mother's Day

Mother's Day can evoke a kaleidoscope of emotions. Joy, love, and deep appreciation naturally surface as we celebrate the women who raised and nurtured us. We might cherish childhood memories, appreciate the sacrifices they made, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for their unwavering love. However, Mother's Day can also be a time of immense sadness and grief for those who have lost their mothers. Whether recent or a long time ago, the pain of losing such a significant figure can be deeply felt on this day.

For some, Mother's Day brings up complex emotions related to strained relationships with their mothers. Unresolved conflicts, unmet expectations, or a lack of emotional connection can make celebrating feel inauthentic or even trigger anger and frustration. Similarly, mothers themselves might experience a range of emotions. The pressure to live up to societal ideals of motherhood, coupled with the realities of raising children, can lead to feelings of inadequacy, exhaustion, or resentment.

Regardless of the reason, the absence of a mother figure can also be a source of loneliness and longing on Mother's Day. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and find ways to celebrate the female role models who may have shaped your life.

The key takeaway? All emotions surrounding Mother's Day are valid. Ignoring or suppressing difficult feelings can only make them stronger. Recognising and acknowledging your personal experience is the first step towards navigating this day with compassion and self-care.

Honouring Maternal Figures

How you honour the maternal figures in your life depends on your individual circumstances and the nature of your relationship. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Traditional Celebrations: For those with supportive mothers, spending quality time together is a wonderful way to express love and appreciation. Plan a special outing, have a heartfelt conversation, or simply create a relaxing afternoon at home. Consider writing a handwritten note expressing your gratitude for their presence in your life.
  • Navigating Complex Relationships: If your relationship with your mother is challenging, setting boundaries and prioritising your own well-being might be the most honouring thing you can do. This might involve limiting contact, setting clear expectations for communication, or opting for a different form of acknowledgement altogether. Remember, self-compassion is paramount.
  • Remembering Deceased Mothers: Visiting your mother's gravesite, sharing memories with loved ones, or engaging in charitable acts in her name can be meaningful ways to keep her memory alive on Mother's Day. Consider her values and passions, and choose a way to celebrate her spirit that feels authentic to you.
  • Expanding Motherly Figures: Mother's Day isn't just about biological mothers. Consider the grandmothers, aunts, mentors, foster mothers, or other female role models who have been nurturing and supportive in your life. Reach out to them and express your appreciation for their positive impact.

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to honour the maternal figures in your life. The key is to choose a method that feels genuine and resonates with the unique dynamics of your relationships.

Prioritising Mental Health on Mother's Day

Mother's Day, with its emphasis on family togetherness and societal expectations, can be emotionally charged. So, it's crucial to prioritise your mental health during this time. Here are some practical self-care tips to help you navigate the day:

  • Embrace Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or time in nature can help you manage challenging emotions. Engaging with the present moment can detach you from negative thought spirals and foster a sense of calm.
  • Set Boundaries: Don't be afraid to set boundaries to protect your mental well-being. This might involve limiting social media engagement, politely declining overwhelming obligations, or taking breaks during family gatherings. Remember, you have the right to prioritise your emotional comfort.
  • Seek Support: Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can provide invaluable support during a difficult time. Sharing your feelings and experiences in a safe and confidential space can help you process emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Engage in Activities You Enjoy: Prioritise activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This could involve pursuing hobbies, spending time with supportive loved ones, listening to calming music, or indulging in a relaxing bath. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's essential for maintaining emotional well-being.


Mother's Day can be a day of mixed emotions, and that's perfectly okay. Acknowledge and validate your feelings, no matter how complex they may be. Choose ways to honour the maternal figures in your life that feel genuine and authentic to you. Most importantly, prioritise your mental health by practising self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed. Remember, a meaningful Mother's Day is one that fosters connection, compassion, and well-being for yourself and those you love.

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