Typically, on Mother’s Day, people observe the day by honoring their mothers with greeting cards, flowers, or gifts as a way of letting their mothers know how much they are appreciated and loved. Unfortunately, however, Mother's Day can be a difficult day for people whose mothers are deceased. Those grieving their mothers on Mother’s Day should take comfort in this anonymous quote: “Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, their hearts forever.” They should also take comfort in the fact that it is possible to honor their deceased mothers on the holiday and have an enjoyable observance of the day.
History of Mother’s Day
Honoring mothers has ancient origins, but the practice was not termed Mother's Day until more recent history. Ancient societies honored mythological goddesses and not human mothers. The past few centuries, however, have witnessed a change in the practice to honoring female humans, rather than female deities.
The practice of honoring motherhood originated, initially, in Europe. It was observed on Lent, before Easter. Early European Christians honored the baptismal church because they considsered that church their "Mother Church.” English clerics, in the 1600's expanded the practice to include real mothers, and they called it Mothering Day.
Mother’s Day had its American origins in 1870 as a result of Julia Ward Howe's proclamation. Howe was so disheartened by so many Civil War deaths that she called on mothers to unite and protest what she deemed as the war's futility of their sons’ deaths. Once Howe stopped financing the protests, the organized observances gradually met their demise.
It was Anna M. Jarvis, in rememberance of her own deceased mother, who campaigned for the establishment of an official Mother’s Day. As a result, on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother's Day was held at Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and also at a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Because Anna Jarvis arranged for white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to be worn by those attending the first celebration, white carnations are now traditionally used to honor deceased mothers. Often pink or red carnations are used to honor mothers who are living. Andrew's Methodist Church still exists to this day in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1962, the church was incorporated into the International Mother's Day shrine.
Ways to Honor a Deceased Mother on Mother’s Day
Even though Mother’s Day can be difficult for those whose mothers are deceased, it is emotionally healthier not to ignore the day. It is better for those whose mothers are deceased to remember the years spent with their mothers and to share those lovely memories with family and friends.
Those with a deceased mother can honor their deceased mother’s memory by choosing a favorite place the mother liked to go. They could plan a family trip there and share with family the importantance their mothers played in their lives.
Cooking and serving their mothers’ favorite meals on Mother’s Day is another very special way for those whose mothers are deceased to honor them. Making a table centerpiece of their mothers’ favorite flowers for the dinner table would make for an extra tribute in serving their mothers' favorite meal on that day.
Family members of deceased mothers can also plant a flower garden as a memorial tribute. Visiting their mothers’ graves on Mother’s Day to place a wreath or beautiful arrangement of flowers will also provide for a meaningfull tribute.
Another fitting Mother's Day tribute to deceased mothers is to contribute to their mothers’ church or their favorite charity in the deceased mothers' names. It's also fitting to light a candle placed near a photograph of the deceased mother on Mother's Day. Expressing the feelings of love for the deceased mother to the photo image can also be a cathartic and healing experience on that day.