Mother’s Day without mom: How this woman has created a healing space for those who grieve

·4-min read

Every year, companies blast out commercials urging people to buy gifts for Mother’s Day. The holiday, celebrated on the second Monday in May, is meant to honor the role mothers play in our lives. But for those who have suffered a loss, it can be a painful reminder of the void that remains.

Alicia Forneret lost her mother in 2016 and feels the weight of the holiday every year.

“I know how challenging it is to get to this weekend, after seeing all of the ads, after seeing all of the emails popping up in your inbox saying ‘buy flowers for your mom,’ 'buy your mom a gift.’ I can’t do that, and a lot of other people can’t do that,” Forneret tells Yahoo Life.

Creating a safe space for people who have lost their mothers became a priority for Forneret after she struggled to find appropriate grief resources following her mother's death. “I really wanted something that resonated with the experience I was having. Which was very different from doves and rainbows and recovery. It was anger, it was confusion,” she explains. 

What Forneret craved was a community with other people who could understand her experience. She says that shortly after her mother’s passing, a good friend welcomed her to “the club,” of people who have lost their mothers. Because she couldn't find it, Forneret created the space herself by launching The Dead Moms Club, a place where those grieving can connect with other people sharing the same pain. Members can share stories about their mothers, quotes and even recipes that have been passed down.

“When your parent, caregiver or someone close to you dies, and you meet someone else who’s had that experience, there are things you don’t have to explain to those people. So creating a centralized location for people who’ve had those experiences and want to gather and sort of all be in that middle ground together, that’s why I’ve been doing the work I’ve been doing around mother loss,” says Forneret.

Everyone will experience grief, yet it can feel uncomfortable to discuss. Part of Forneret's work is to show that there isn’t just one way to process the passing of a loved one. She suggests that grief is a multi-layered experience that is impacted by our environments and lived experiences.

“Grief is very individualistic and unique, everything from our race can impact the way we experience grief — our age, our location. I personally define grief in my work as a full-body, full-being experience that we have after the death or loss of someone,” Forneret shares.

(Photo: Jana Josue photography)
(Photo: Jana Josue photography)

In 2019, The Dead Moms Club hosted its first Motherless Mother's Day event, where people could gather to share, grieve and avoid the nonstop questions about their mothers on Mother’s Day. It became a space where participants could feel taken care of and where feelings could be validated. The next year, the event was entirely digital due to the coronavirus pandemic and included 33 events in 3 days. This year, the event has been renamed to “Caregiving 2021” and will extend until Father’s Day weekend, placing the emphasis on the overall experience of losing a parental figure.

“So this event will include people who are grieving the loss of any caregiver. Mothers Day isn’t just hard for people whose moms have died and Father's Day isn’t just hard for people whose dads have died. The figures in our life that serve those purposes of caregivers and guardians take many shapes and forms, so we’re just opening it up to anyone who needs support this year,” says Forneret.

Caregiving 2021 will include Zoom events with grief, health and wellness professionals; articles, guides, videos and resources for self-care.

With Mother's Day approaching, Forneret says it's important to check in with yourself. She suggests talking to a loved one about your feelings and also taking time to “breathe and acknowledge that this week can be hard.”

For Forneret, talking about her mother helps.

“I got into this space after my mom died. She was an artist, she was a nurse. She lived a very full life raising me and my sister,” Forneret says. "Around Mothers Day, I take time to tell people about my mom. Being able to say her name and tell stories about her, honestly, that is the best way for me to feel good this time of year."

Want to participate in Caregiving 2021? Use this promo code YAHOOCARE for a 25% discount.

Produced by Jacquie Cosgrove

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