Grieving on Mother’s Day: Celebrating all the moms in heaven

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Black communities with ferocity, this will be the first Mother’s Day without mom for tens of thousands.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

This piece isn’t for those who will spend Mother’s Day at least talking to their moms in the physical. Each and every year we get to celebrate our moms is a gift and a blessing from the Lord above, even if that celebration is a virtual one this year.

But for those, like me, who lost our moms, Mother’s Day will be a struggle. This is especially so for those who lost their mom after last year’s Mother’s Day and will experience their first one without them.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Black communities with ferocity, this will be the first Mother’s Day without mom for tens of thousands. This is for you. theGrio spoke to individuals who have experienced grieving the loss of a mom to share some tips for how to cope, as well as a mental health professional about the importance of utilizing therapy.

An older black woman mournfully looks out her window (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Elena Romero, daughter of Aida Luz Romero, professor, journalist and mother of three, says talking about her mom to family and friends helps. “We comfort each other, smiling, laughing and even crying at moments,” Romero tells theGrio.

“The loss of a mom is an extremely difficult thing to process and deal with at any age or time,” Romero says. “There are really no words to fully capture the emotion or sense of loss one feels when it happens.”

Romero shares more advice about moving forward in the grieving process. “Allow yourself time to mourn,” she says. “That looks differently for different people. There is no specific timeframe that will make it alright. Surround yourself with love and above all, focus on the positive memories you shared. I also share memories of mom with my children. We often discuss ‘what would momma say or think?'”

To ensure the spirit of her mom lives on, Romero says she buried her mom close to my home to “allow myself the ability to visit her grave frequently (pre-COVID-19),” Romero shares. “I created and dedicated my garden in her honor. I planted hydrangeas and colorful flowers because she loved them so much. I placed a dedication stone to thank her. Spending time in my garden reminds me of her and provides me tranquility.”

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Daniel Janey, son of Sue Janey and restaurant manager, shares that the firsts will be difficult. “The first holidays, birthdays, and special occasions are the hardest,” Janey tells theGrio.

“You just yearn to have your mom on special days like Mother’s Day. I choose to celebrate and remember my mother on this day rather than be sad and lonely. I have an urn with her ashes in it. This Mother’s Day I will ‘talk’ to her and thank her for being the best mom for 24 years of my life.”

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“I did not lose my mom yet to death but I have lost her mind to Alzheimer’s Disease,” says Maysa Akbar, daughter of Olga Namias and PhD, ABPP.

“She is currently in a nursing home, which was a very tough decision we made late last year. As a person of color, it is not a traditional route for managing an aging parent. We usually take care of our parents no matter the toll it takes on us and our family. I got a lot of backlash from my family about my decision.”

Dr. Anita Phillips, minister and therapist, and daughter of Mrs. Shirley Graham expressed the importance of professional mental health services.

“I believe every single human being should spend some time in the therapy room at some point in our lives,” Dr. Phillips tells theGrio. “Therapy isn’t for mentally ill people; therapy is for people! That being said, structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism pose unique threats to Black people’s mental health while simultaneously reducing access to mental health care that is financially attainable, geographically accessible, and culturally competent.”

This is my ninth Mother’s Day without my Mom in the physical and I remember Mother’s Day 2012. I ventured to Atlantic City, New Jersey, because it was a place where I spent time with my mom, and it was a place where I could be alone with my thoughts.

I cried a lot, but I also thought of the countless memories we shared, and it helped. For all of those suffering like me, I hope this piece not only finds you, but provides some measure of comfort on this painful day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms in heaven, from Brenda Victoria Johnson‘s son Derrel.