Mother’s Day Sadness: 7 Ways to Help a Friend Who’s Struggling

Karina Margit Erdelyi

If you have a friend who’s struggling with Mother’s Day and want to offer support, here are seven gentle ways to help.

Mother’s Day conjures images of flowers and fancy brunches, but what might be joyful for some may be deeply triggering for others. Some folks have lost parents or children, some are struggling with fertility issues, loss, or miscarriage, while others may have a painful or estranged relationship with their mothers.

Knowing what to say to a friend who is coping with loss and grief can feel hard (and sometimes awkward). Experts recommend putting aside the platitudes and keeping it real. It can be a breath of fresh air for someone experiencing heartache to engage in authentic conversation — real talk can be really powerful.

If you have a friend who’s struggling with Mother’s Day and want to offer support, here are a few gentle ways to help.

Suggest a social media hiatus
Encourage your friend to hit pause on their social channels on the days leading up to and after Mother’s Day. It can be triggering to see all the loving photos and posts for someone struggling with the holiday. Muting social media for a few days will help them avoid a potentially upsetting barrage of Mother’s Day messages.

Honor their grief
If your friend is grieving on Mother’s Day, ask if there is a way you can help honor their loved one together. It could be something as simple as lighting a candle for them or doing something that they love like taking a walk on the beach.

Be present
Ask your friend “how are you today?” By adding ‘today’ you give the signal that you want to listen to how they’re actually doing and that it’s safe to open up. Show up for your friend by letting them know that you’re there. Be that friend who keeps checking in.

When we struggle with difficult emotions, having someone listen and be a sounding board can really help. Reach out and ask your friend how they feel. Give them the grace and space to share their frustrations and grief. The opportunity to disclose feelings and feel heard can make all the difference.

Let your friend know you’re thinking of them
Give your friend a simple note or card acknowledging how tough the holiday may be — it’s a simple gesture that’s meaningful.

Make plans
Ask your friend how they want to mark the day and take their lead. If they’re open to it, help your friend stay active and distracted. Join them in an activity that they love and keep the focus on being present in the moment.

Be a support, not a fix
The feelings and emotions your friend is working through don’t have an expiration date. Strive to support your friend in how they choose to spend this Mother’s Day rather than “fix” how they are feeling.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.