Mother’s Day is an occasion to honor the love and sacrifice that mothers share throughout our lives. However, for those who have lost their mothers, this day of celebration can also be an emotionally challenging time.
Dr. Marc Fedder, medical director for Liberty Homecare and Hospice in Thomasville, NC, encourages those who may be struggling with grief to take comfort in the companionship of friends and family.
“You have to surround yourself with other adults who can help you through the process,” he said. “You have to have substantial, meaningful relationships that can help you.”
Fedder recommends taking advantage of community bereavement programs such as those offered by Liberty Hospice. Many hospice care providers offer grief counseling services, which are typically available to families at little or no cost for up to a year after the loss of a loved one, regardless of whether the deceased received hospice care.
Fedder noted that the death of a parent can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. He urges those who are coping with grief in the wake of such a loss to be patient and not feel pressured to rush through the healing process.
“It can take a long time to recover – sometimes a year or two and sometimes even longer,” Fedder said. “It just depends on the person. There is no set timetable for grief.”
He also reminds friends and family of those who are coping with such a loss to be vigilant in looking for warning signs that could indicate the need for professional counseling to address the physical and emotional effects of grief.
“Anytime someone has had a decreased appetite, lack of hygiene or lack of sleep, that can be a sign of severe depression caused by the loss of a loved one,” Fedder said. “You really have to look for those kinds of signs and see if [professional assistance] is needed.”
Some who have lost their mother to a serious health condition such as cancer or heart disease find that getting involved with an organization dedicated to raising awareness of or finding a cure for that disease helps them feel more connected to their lost loved one. Volunteering with the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association or a hospice care provider are just a few of the ways adult children can give back to the community while honoring the memory of their mothers.
“You can’t live in the past,” Fedder said. “But different people handle grief differently. I think you have to do whatever your heart tells you to do. You just want to do something that gives you a feeling of doing something positive in their memory.”