Women's Wellbeing

Reflections on Mother’s Day without a mother.

April 27, 2022

Spending Mother’s Day without a mother can be difficult. I lost my mother way too soon. In this blog post, I share my reflections.

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I have been a mother for 15+ years.  For these 15+ years, I have been showered with pasta jewelry, tempera-painted terracotta pots, popsicle stick framed photos, and more from four incredible boys who make my heart swell.

I was a daughter who celebrated my mom on Mother’s Day for 35 years.  My tissue paper flowers evolved into traditions of honoring my quite remarkable mother – traditions that surrounded her.

The 10 short years I spent as both mother and daughter seemed strange – part intrusion of my motherness into my childhood family system and part shared motherness as a point of deeper connection, and strange in its lack of clarity. It was sort of a change in our tradition – but without the forging of a new tradition. 

I remember my first year as a mother without a mother. I was in such a dark place I don’t really remember how I felt – or if I had even started feeling at all at that point. Maybe that was my transition year – my motherless gap year.

In the years since, I often feel deep grief.

I miss my mom.

I miss her smell and how her body – the body that held me for my entire life – still could mold to mine no matter how I grew and changed. The enveloping hugs only she could give – and did, up to her last day here. The cocooning hugs only your mom can provide.

My grief by no means prevents me from celebrating others’ joy on this day. I love watching multiple generations smile for a picture at brunch. I think I even notice it and appreciate it more now that she is gone.

It is still a strange feeling, and somewhat surreal, that I don’t have a mom anymore. I know it happens to nearly all of us at some point, but it is so odd to think to myself, I don’t have a mom. It is sort of like a thought and feeling that has no place to land. Like an awkward comment you don’t know whether to ignore or respond to. It just sort of hangs there – and it doesn’t go away. But, there isn’t really anything that can be done with it.

So, anyway, today I grieve. I cry. I retreat to my room to cuddle with my dog and type these words as an offering. As a request.

As a plea.

As a protest. 

But as soon as this wave passes, I will make my way back out to the 4 incredible boys who have made me a mother.

I will notice how we mold, breathe in their smells, and see what treasures are wrapped in the tissue paper…

…and realize I am to them what my mother was to me.

…and I’ll try to let that sink in….just for a moment.….because that is remarkable.

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What else?

Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict. SE facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotion.


SE offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others— Excerpt taken from SETI.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders resulting from multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Excerpt taken from SETI

An Embodied approach to healing

Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict. SE facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotion.


SE offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others— Excerpt taken from SETI.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders resulting from multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Excerpt taken from SETI

An Embodied approach to healing

Excerpt taken from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. 

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is a complete treatment modality to heal trauma and attachment issues. SP welcomes the body as an integral source of information for processing past experiences relating to upsetting or traumatic events and developmental wounds. SP incorporates the physical and sensory experience, as well as thoughts and emotions, as part of the person’s complete experience of both the trauma itself and the process of healing. Excerpt taken from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.  


An Embodied approach to healing

SP seeks to restore a person’s ability to process information without being triggered by past experience. SP uses a three-phase treatment approach to gently guide the client through the therapeutic process – Safety and Stabilization, Processing, and Integration. The therapist must pay close attention to the client to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by the process while simultaneously engaging their own abilities and capacities for healing.

It is thought that SP strengthens instinctual capacities for survival and assists clients to re-instate or develop resources which were unavailable or missing at the time the trauma or wounding occurred. Once resources are developed and in place, the traumatic event can be processed with the aid of resources. SP is a well-developed approach with decades of success in the treatment of trauma and developmental wounds. — Excerpt taken from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. 

Excerpt taken from ACBS Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive multi-diagnostic, modularized behavioral intervention designed to treat individuals with severe mental disorders and out-of-control cognitive, emotional and behavioral patterns. It has been commonly viewed as a treatment for individuals meeting criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) with chronic and high-risk suicidality, substance dependence or other disorders. However, over the years, data has emerged demonstrating that DBT is also effective for a wide range of other disorders and problems, most of which are associated with difficulties regulating emotions and associated cognitive and behavioral patterns. 

radical acceptance and change

As the name implies, dialectical philosophy is a critical underpinning of DBT. Dialectics is a method of logic that identifies the contradictions (antithesis) in a person's position (thesis) and overcomes them by finding the synthesis. Additionally, in DBT a client cannot be understood in isolation from his or her environment and the transactions that occur. Rather, the therapist emphasizes the transaction between the person and their environment both in the development and maintenance of any disorders. It is also assumed that there are multiple causes as opposed to a single factor affecting the client. And, DBT uses a framework that balances the treatment strategies of acceptance and change - the central dialectical tension in DBT. Therapists work to enhance the capability (skills) of their client as well as to develop the motivation to change. Maintaining that balance between acceptance and change with clients is crucial for both keeping a client in treatment and ensuring they are making progress towards their goals of creating a life worth living. — Taken from DBT-Linehan Board of Certification. (click to learn more)

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