Mother’s Day in mourning: How to approach the holiday while facing loss

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Mother’s Day is just two days away. For many, Sunday will be a celebration. But for others, it’s a reminder of loss.

“Because they’re celebrating something that you don’t get to have or that you have lost,” explained Wilmington psychologist, Dr. Erika Geisler.

Tracion Flood lost her daughter 20 years ago, and more recently her 25-year-old son was shot and killed in April’s 11th Street shooting. Crime stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information on the encounter. Flood devotes all her time and energy trying to find her son’s shooter, but she’s hit a dead end.

“It’s been too much of a rough time to listen to people that won’t actually go talk to a detective,” she said.

But Flood isn’t the only mother who’s grieving.

Last September, Khalilah Olokunola’s 72-year-old mother was suddenly diagnosed with stage four cancer. Olokunola spent the next month by her mother’s side, until she died. This Mother’s Day marks the first one without her here.

“I’m a mom, and I can’t think about my kids not having me here,” she said. “It’s been really hard. Because I want to be able to tell her how much I appreciate her, how much I love her, and I have to do it here.”

Holidays can trigger strong emotions. That’s why Dr. Geisler recommends approaching those days with a plan based off how you feel about that day.

“It’s sort of like having a fire escape plan. You know that you’re here and if something bad is happening, how are you going to get out of that?”

Flood says she plans to spend the day at home, making her remaining son feel loved. Often, she says a check-up from friends and family makes the loss a bit more bearable.

“If you have it in you, just to give her a hug. Just to give that mother a hug,” said Flood.

As for Olokunola, she’ll spend Mother’s Day with her children. Since her mom, Marietta’s death, she’s started an organization in her name, assembling gift bags for healthcare workers and memorial garden kits for cancer victim’s families. She says it’s her was of honoring her mother’s legacy.

“She was planted here to do good. And doing good doesn’t stop when you lose your mom or when your mom goes away. It can continue when she’s gone.”

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