After losing her mother to cancer four years ago, Aly Teich opens up about what it's really like when you're grieving on Mother's Day.

By Aly Teich
Aly Teich

I'm going to admit something: Mother's Day brings out the absolute worst in me.

In the two months leading up to it, the seemingly endless amount of Mother's Day commercials, promotional emails, and social media posts all advertising "the perfect gift for mom" or offering a special way for me and my mother to celebrate together actually fill me with rage to the point where I want to scream at the television, punch my computer screen, or throw my phone to the ground.

Even worse, when the actual day comes, I can barely go outside, let alone walk into any restaurant or store (and forget a spa or nail salon) without seeing mother and daughter duos chatting away about everything and nothing all at once in the way that mothers and daughters have the special ability to do. Instead of thinking 'oh, that's so sweet,' I'm filled again with rage—but this time, it's mixed with jealousy, pain, and deep sadness.

Before you assume I'm just cold-hearted, let me give you some context around why Mother's Day is so tough for me.

On February 14, 2015—just over four years ago—my mother died of ovarian cancer.

She was the light of my life, the center of my universe, and the person I chatted with for hours on end about nothing and everything. On that day, her heart, which had been put through so very much, stopped beating. Her lungs, which produced the warm wisps I can still feel on my cheeks, took their last breath. And my beautiful, strong mother decided she was tired enough to finally say goodbye after holding on for so very long.

She was diagnosed five years earlier, and I almost immediately quit my job to become her caretaker. At the time, I started to silently prepare myself for her passing. However, looking back, there was no way to prepare for this kind of loss, and there was no way to prepare for the long, messy, unpredictable, and winding journey that is grief—a journey that I couldn't just yoga my way out of, no matter how hard I tried. No matter how many people try to explain it to you or how many ways you imagine losing someone you love until you are the one sitting front row at a funeral, you just don't really get it.

People tell you it will be sad and difficult, but that with time, it will get easier or at least feel more "normal." They tell you it will make you stronger and give you a new perspective on life. All of this I can now, four years later, attest to being true, but it's the stuff they don't tell you that hits you like a ton of bricks when you're faced with grief.

Aly Teich

Nobody talks about the painful little moments like when you go to text your mom about something and realize you can't. Nobody talks about how angry you'll feel—at the world, at yourself for being such a mess, and even still, at your mom for actually leaving you.

Nobody tells you that the holidays will just be days you have to "get through" or that Mother's Day is actually the worst of them.

The thing about Mother's Day, for me, is that it basically reminds me for two straight months that my mom is gone. It makes me feel isolated and alone, not just because I'm not celebrating, but because I don't feel like I can really talk about how much it sucks without sounding bitter, weak, or insensitive...or just feeling like a jerk. So, I don't say anything because nobody will get it. Sure, other people who have lost their moms will get it, but none of them seem to be talking about it either.

But, I'm saying we need to talk about it. We, as a society, need to stop being afraid to talk about sadness and death simply because it makes us uncomfortable or because we don't know what to say. It's not the most uplifting topic, but it's real, and death is something everyone is going to face at some point. If we don't talk about it, we'll never learn the tools needed to support ourselves and each other through loss.

So, for anyone who is just "getting through" Mother's Day because your mom is not around for one reason or another, please know you are not alone today or any day. You are not alone in your loss. You are not alone in your struggle. You are not alone in your sadness. And you are not alone in your anger.

If you have someone in your life who has lost their mom, take a moment to reach out to them. Trust me, it will mean more than you know.

Through my own anger and sadness, I really do honor all of the mothers out there, including my own. In fact, I will be honoring her this Mother’s Day by doing something that we both loved to do together—having a picnic in Central Park. Today, that experience, like many in my life, look a little different without her. Now, the picnic is me, sitting on her memorial bench and having a sandwich, and in our own way, we're still spending the day together.

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