I talk a lot about the difficulties of Mother’s Day when you’ve lost your mom because that is my experience, but I know there are others out there that find Mother’s Day difficult because they’ve lost a child.

I can’t imagine the unbearable pain that comes to families that have lost a child.

And the constant questions like “how many children do you have?”

While I think the concept of Mother’s Day is a good one, the honoring of the people that gave us life and support us, I also know that it can trigger a lot of pain and longing.

I would never want to compare losses, but I do know that the fundamentals of processing grief and honoring our loved ones are universal. If you are having a hard time this Mother’s Day, some of these concepts may ease the way for you.

Feel how you need to feel

I say this a lot, but it really is the key to alleviating suffering, even though it may sound counter-intuitive. On top of that, society doesn’t really support or condone the expression of emotions when it is deemed that you should be feeling something else. To hell with all of that and just give yourself the “permission slip” to feel how you need to feel.

Honor your loved one

Sigmund Freud used to talk about detachment as being the way to survive grief, but even he realized after the death of his daughter, that detaching or removing the memory of a loved one that has passed only makes the suffering worse. Honor the person that has died in your life in a way that feels significant and meaningful to you. That could mean doing an activity that they liked or visiting their favorite place or eating their favorite meal. It could also mean lighting a candle in their memory or giving money to a charity in their honor. You get to choose what feels right to you.

Take care of yourself

Be gentle with yourself. I talk about this a lot, too, but it is a vital component to surviving grief. Loving yourself and being good to yourself is the best tribute that you could give your loved one. Ask yourself today and every day, “what would feel good to me right now?” Some days that might mean a massage or watching your favorite movie. Other days it may mean a walk or a chocolate chip cookie. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.

I know that this holiday can bring up a lot of emotions, but that can also be a good thing. The more that we allow the emotions to come to us, the more we can process and let them flow out of us, it creates the opportunity for gratitude and peace to take their place.

We will always miss the people we’ve lost, but we can reach a point of gratitude for their existence and how they’ve changed our lives.

It does take time, but more importantly, it takes processing your emotions.

And that can be the true gift of Mother’s Day, the opportunity to feel our feelings and mother ourselves through it.