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Surviving Mother's Day - by Noha El Nahas, MA

“Happy Mother’s day”, a simple greeting that could make someone’s day and at the same time break someone’s heart!

21st of March is not a usual day in Egypt. Regardless of how genuine feelings that day are, it is still a heavy demonstration and sometimes exaggeration of emotional expression. Starting from the repetitive songs on the radio, ads on TV and a flood of pictures on social media with mothers, daughters and grandmothers.

The majority of people would be involved in this festive mood either through giving or receiving gifts, greetings, cards and even online tags. But what about those who cannot participate? What about those in pain? What about those who lost their mothers, ladies who can’t give birth or even women who lost a child? What about those who are in silent pain? How could they cope? How could they handle? How could they survive that loud day?

This article does not want people to stop celebrating mother’s day or stop showing their appreciation and love. My aim below is to ease that day on people who could get triggered by the celebrations.

Before giving simple coping mechanisms, there are two essential steps that any person who could be in pain on that day needs to go through. Firstly to understand how they feel then validate it.

Understanding Your Emotions

The most important thing for me while dealing with any client is to emphasize on the importance of understanding their emotions. Many people misinterpret how they feel, thinking that they understand themselves while actually they don’t. For example, it is very common for people to confuse emotions such as anger with sadness, which might lead to a great confusion. Such perplexity would only lead to a waste of energy and a general state of emotional exhaustion. The key is to focus on the “here and now”, to remain grounded to know what exactly it is that you are feeling. Once a person gets in touch with their emotions, they would be able to deal with it, therefore better understand themselves.

Great tip: keeping a journal with your daily emotions always help!

Validating your Emotions:

Being aware of your emotions is not enough. People need more than just understanding in order to feel better. Therefore, validation is the magic word! It is okay to feel this way! You could hear it from a counselor, a friend or even your own reflection in the mirror, “you have the right to feel the way you feel”. People need to understand that they are neither machines nor angles! Machines cannot feel to begin with while angles cannot have negative feelings. Once a person starts accepting any emotion they have, the guilt will be reduced and acceptance will emerge.

Great tip: talk to yourself out loud positively and validate how you feel.

After the person becomes aware of his/her emotion and validates it, things get slightly easier because all the emotional energy would be aimed at the right direction with no distractions. Coping mechanisms that I would suggest on that day could now have logic and could make more sense.

1- Practice mindfulness exercises

As cliché as this may sounds, but yes I want you to meditate and relax! Think about it from a different perspective. People deep breath before an exam or important performance, then why not do the same thing on a stressful day such as mother’s day!

2- Find comfort

Since we agreed on the importance of validation, then it is okay to feel bad, sad, broken, angry and even bitter! If you are an extrovert who likes to be surrounded by people then meet any one from your support system and seek their support. If you internalize your pain and you prefer your own company, then make sure to create a comfort zone for yourself, through watching a nice movie, ordering your favorite meal, drawing…etc

3- Let it out, never in!

Some years pass easier than others, sometimes you could need to cry or shout while other years it could go smooth. The golden rule here is never let the negative emotions sink in. Let them out! Do whatever it takes to let those monsters out of your system. Talk, cry, scream, run, dance or even hit your pillows till feathers fly all around the room. Just don’t let the darkness in!

4- Create a team!

Sometimes it is not a bad idea to be around people who wear the same shoe! Such an act would lighten the burden, reduce the stress and make you feel that you are not the only one. You could even turn that day into a black comedy night and end up actually having fun!

5- Be careful of Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Sometimes, people hold a certain idea and they decide to make it come true no matter what happens! If you keep on believing that mother’s day would always be a bad event for you, then it would! Challenge that thought, challenge your negative prophecy or try to make it a positive one!

6- Know your limits and respect it!

The last and most important thing for me is to know what you are capable of and what you are not! If mother’s day brings you sadness, then don’t force yourself to face it! Maybe you are not ready yet! In this case, distract and avoid all the festivities that might make you feel worse.

Lastly, I would like to stress on a very important point, which is, that people heal differently and this is what we call individual differences. Invest in understanding yourself in order to be able to know how to help it cope with such a difficult day.

Believe me, everything in this life starts small then it grows, except for sadness, it starts big…then it shrinks!

*If this article made you feel uncomfortable or triggered you in any negative way, please do not hesitate to seek professional help


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