You’ll see cards in the supermarkets, receive e-mail vouchers for gifts, and find your social media filled with photographs and messages. As much as it is heart warming for all involved, these are all tough sentiments for anyone struggling with their maternal relationship. Mother – Child relations are complex. Some are estranged from their Mother, some Mothers aren’t supportive of their children’s decisions and others Mothers are fighting to be with their children for as long as they can. This day can’t be easy for anyone in those situations, but the emotions of a daughter whose Mother has left this world is one that is so poignant; I think we are all bound in a silent sisterhood due to the experiences we have faced.
Being a part of this silent sisterhood is something we all fear we may have to go through.
For those already in it, we know that losing a parent while blossoming into adulthood is a unique challenge, especially for young women. Every Mother’s Day, I receive messages of love and support from my dearest friends, who can only imagine what it’s like for me. Their support has kept me afloat during tough times. The first few years the pain was immense and the day would always catch me off guard, and now it seems the pain is still there but I’ve learnt how to manage it.
There’s no guide or handbook for grief; everyone copes differently. What I can say however, is that time is the greatest healer.
As the months and years pass by, you’ll never forget what was lost and you’ll probably miss them even more, but your soul will find a way to use this pain as a source of strength to stay inspired, motivated, and make the best of the time you have in this world.
One misconception about grief is that once they’ve gone, your relationship with them will end as you won’t be able to communicate with them. Relationships are complex and built on a foundation of love and trust, and if you had a good bond with your Mother, then that never goes away.
You’ll still think about them, wonder what they’d say if you went to them for advice, from big decisions like career moves to small decisions like what to wear for your birthday dinner. You’ll fill in any gaps with the experiences you did have with them, or with the stories you’ve been told about. One of the things I found the hardest for the first few years was not being on the receiving end of unconditional maternal love. I felt like it was unfair and I was being cheated out of something so valuable which many people take for granted. Then I realised that I could still feel that love. The bond of two souls is not finite and is not constrained to the rules of time & place that we have in this world, especially a bond as strong as a Mother and her Daughter. It’s a phrase said by many ethnic Mothers, that everyday is Mother’s Day. When you’re living without your Mom, those words couldn’t be more true.
So after all these Mother’s Days, what have I learnt in order to cope and manage my emotions?
Firstly, it is okay (and somewhat expected) to feel sad on this day. Let yourself be, and don’t expect too much of yourself. If you want to ignore the day then go ahead and do that; or if you want to celebrate the day, then spend it with your friends and family doing whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Be gentle with yourself. Sadness is often a really complex emotion and is a catalyst for deep thought and contemplation.
Moments of sadness are not setbacks, but opportunities to grow further in your journey of grief, healing and self understanding.
To all those daughters who miss their Mom, I send you my love and support.
Living in this complex patriarchal world without your maternal shining light can make you feel lost in the darkness, but remember that you have a light inside to find your way.
Growing into womanhood without a Mother is disorientating, but the extra strength and perseverance you’ve used to find your sense of self will allow the light within you to shine more brightly. For your Mother, knowing that she had to leave you would have been one of the hardest thoughts for her to process, but she would have been confident that you will continue to share her legacy in the best way. Remember that you are from her flesh and from her blood, so all the qualities and strengths you saw in her are innately present in you too. In those moments where you feel that her verbal reassurance is all you need, don’t ever doubt yourself and don’t ever feel inadequate. Don’t ever forget that she sought the pain of bearing you and giving you life because she loved you, and she would want you to live happily whilst being true to yourself. And finally, don’t forget that with Allah’s Mercy, your soul will be reunited with hers one day, and I pray it is in the most beautiful gardens of Paradise, surrounded by peace, tranquility and a warm embrace.
I'm a 25 year old doctor born and bought up in Birmingham. I trained at Oxford University and have been involved in many access and outreach projects to encourage girls of colour to enter medicine. I’ve recently started a community project for this on Instagram @wearemedigirl. Personal: @sums.adrs.