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I lost my mother suddenly to lung cancer in February. There are days where it is still difficult to grapple with the pain and loss I feel waking up and remembering my mom is no longer here. With Mother’s Day approaching, I have been reflecting on the meaning of Mother’s Day and what it means to me and others who have faced a similar loss.


My sister kindly reminded me that our mother thought Mother’s Day was silly. She never turned down an opportunity to do brunch together, but would routinely say, “We can celebrate me any day!” Now that she has passed, it would be easy to be lured into using this day to hide away alone with my sorrow, but instead I choose to celebrate her memory in the way she would’ve wanted… with family.


If your mother is not here this Mother’s Day, I encourage you to honor her spirit by celebrating the other mothers in your life – grandmothers, sisters, aunts, friends. Try to accept love and support from others who want to help you. Sometimes it can be easier to say no thank you to invitations to join others this day, and it is important to take time to grieve, but also try to accept love from friends and allow it to surround you.


If you know someone who is facing Mother’s Day without their mother, take the time to reach out. For me, when a friend shares a story about their experience with my mother it helps keep her memory alive. During this time of grieving, I have felt so much comfort and joy hearing other’s stories of how my mother impacted their lives or just hearing someone recounting a fun time they had together.


If you do not have a memory to share, a word of love and encouragement is always appreciated. I am so grateful to have friends and family continue to think of me even as months have passed since my mother’s death. The absence of a loved one never fully goes away, and even when I don’t – or can’t – express the deep loss I feel, the love from family and friends works to provide comfort. There is no moving on from this loss, only the chance to move forward.


I encourage you to celebrate your Mom every day.


I will close with a poem that a friend sent to me shortly after my mother died. It has been a source of hope and a goal of mine to get to the state where I can live true to some of these words:


“You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

By, David Harkins


My heart aches for those who have lost their mothers. May you find small comfort in your loving memories this day.


Helpful Resources:

USAA Survivor Relations


About the Blogger: Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (5 and 3 years), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.



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