“Celebration Is The Greatest Way To Neutralize The Darkness”: Iyanla On Handling Mother’s Day Grief

May 11, 2017  |  

When we talk about Mother’s Day and the preparation for it, the focus tends to be on what gifts we can give the mothers in our lives and what plans we have for them on that day. But what people rarely discuss is the pain Mother’s Day can bring when someone has lost their mother, or a mother has lost a child. Not only are birthdays and holidays a reminder of who and what’s missing, but Mother’s Day, for some, can be the most painful of all.

Iyanla Vanzant Mother's Day grief

That was originally the case for Iyanla Vanzant. The Fix My Life host, author and spiritual guru lost her daughter Gemmia in 2003, and not only did Gemmia leave behind a child, but Vanzant also gave birth to her on Mother’s Day. “For me, Mother’s Day has a very different meaning,” Vanzant told me during an interview last month. But that doesn’t mean it’s filled with sadness. One lesson that the life coach learned and shared was that celebration is the greatest way to deal with grief.

“Grief is a natural part of life,” she said. “Loss is a natural part of life. I think the disservice that we do to ourselves and others is that we teach calculus, algebra, geometry, history and we don’t teach about emotional stability. We don’t improve on our emotional library. We don’t grow up with an emotional vocabulary. But what I’ve learned and what I know to be true both in spiritual protocol and even in the Buddhist tradition is that celebration is the greatest way to neutralize the darkness, the heaviness, the sadness of loss. So even coming up on Mother’s Day, celebrate what you’ve got got, what you learned, what you remember. The good times.”

She said that focusing on the memories we have, rather than dwelling on the fact that the person is no longer physically present can have quite the positive impact. That’s why she chooses to celebrate the things that Gemmia loved on Mother’s Day.

“We get stuck in the grief and the loss because we think that because the person isn’t there or the situation no longer exists, that we’re going to miss something or we won’t have something,” Vanzant said. “We also get stuck because we think we should have done more or could have done more. Everything is as it needs to be. You know, my daughter that I lost was born on Mother’s Day. So, for me, Mother’s Day has a very different meaning. But we celebrate. I celebrate her life, I celebrate what I learned from her, what I remember about her — the fun things. I go to her favorite restaurants. And yes, there is the pain of the memory that she’s no longer here, but time heals all wounds. It doesn’t hurt me today like it hurt me the year after she died. And if people would use celebration as a spiritual healing tool, they would have a lot more strength to move through the experience of loss.”

Image via WENN 

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