Psychologist shares strategies for navigating Mother’s Day grief

Mother’s Day can be a trying time for those who have lost a mother or a child, or for those who have difficult familial relationships.

However, there are strategies to help cope with these feelings of grief and to be supportive of those around you who are navigating them.

Psychologist Syras Derksen said like many other holidays, Mother’s Day can serve as a painful reminder to some.

“These are seasons where we’re talking about attachment. When you have these deep attachments, you can have this deep pain, the pain of not being able to get that attachment, the pain of losing it, of it not going the way that you’d like it to go,” he said.

The psychologist said he often encourages his clients who may be dreading these types of holidays to go into a process of acceptance rather than anticipation, noting the anticipation can often be worse than the reality.

Additionally, he said it’s important to be mindful when you’re celebrating of the people around you who could be struggling and to acknowledge it.

“You don’t need to have deep words. You don’t need to have insightful things to say, or even all that helpful things to say. Just to acknowledge it is usually enough,” he said.

Overall, Derksen said offering to do something practical to help someone who is grieving can also go a long way.

If someone may seem withdrawn during celebrations, Derksen doesn’t recommend trying to pull them out of their grief. However, he said it can be revisited during a less emotional time to make a strategy for the next time.

Above all, he said simply being there can make a big difference to those who are grieving.

“People are tremendously resilient and believing in that other person’s resilience, believing in the human spirit’s ability to go through these things is very important.”

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dubé