Portrait of Liv Lorkin, a talented author, illustrator, and designer. She is captured smiling at the camera, showcasing shoulder-length short brown hair and a freckled face. The background features illustrations on the wall, providing a glimpse into her creative and artistic environment.

Australian children’s book author, illustrator and visual storyteller. I weave magic, creativity and fun into all I do.

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The Mother’s Day Aisle

Trigger Warning: This piece contains mentions of suicide, grief and parental loss. Please consider your wellbeing before reading.

One minute you’re surrounded by hot cross buns and chocolate eggs and the next the freight train of flowers, fragrant-filled bath sets and mum mugs are filling the shops. As a motherless daughter, the pink-laden lead-up to Mother’s Day can fill me with dread.

Of course, I would never begrudge anyone for celebrating their mums or motherly figures in their lives. It’s a day that not only holds so much joy for people, but for someone like me and the countless others who have lost their mums, it’s also one of grief.

In my mum’s passing, she left me in the capable care of my paternal Nan, who received my weird but endearing school crafts and Mother’s Day love with open arms.

To this day, her china cabinet has a special spot for a gift-wrapped matchbox that I presented proudly with a handwritten tag and scissor-curled ribbon.

I wholeheartedly channelled that Mother’s Day energy into the woman who raised me, giving only little thought to my own mum who was an ever-present ghostly figure in my childhood. Her death was often described as tragic and not to sugarcoat it, it was and is.

She took her own life at the age of 23 when I was 11 months old.

Growing up I didn’t know the truth about how she passed, she was not to be spoken of and my inquisitive nature was redirected through hushed tones and tears to other areas of life.

After I turned 18 and moved away from my rural country town in the heartland of Victoria, I could no longer ignore the internal pull to know my mother. The silence of my childhood was insufferable and I was ready for answers.

Once I pulled the thread of her life, the rest of my maternal lineage unravelled before me. I was not the first little girl to grow up without a mum. My mother had lost her mum at the age of 7 and through piecing together stories from long-lost relatives and family friends the picture of her life came into focus.

There was something heartbreakingly bittersweet and comforting to know that she too would have passed many Mother’s days without her mum.

I wondered if she had spent some of those days like me, resenting her for not being there, if she kept all that she was feeling bottled up inside or maybe she held a small piece of love in her heart through a small acknowledgement.

I can’t say I’ve always had the healthiest response to Mother’s Day. In my early 20’s I held onto a lot of hurt, anger and internalised blame that took me years of self-exploration, healing and countless hours of therapy to even be able to talk about.

Through that journey, I let go of defining my mum’s life by the last few minutes of it. She was a beautiful soul that had a life filled with turmoil and trauma. For that, I have empathy and compassion for her and others who know the emotional weight of existence.

In her passing my relationship with my mum didn’t die, it changed into something less tangible. I thought I would go my whole life not knowing her, but I see parts of her in my reflection, in my curly untamed hair, in my love of crafting and find comfort in knowing others who say her name, talk about her with love in their heart and share pieces of her with me.

These days in my early 30’s Mother’s Day looks more gentle. There are no gift sets purchased but there are often flowers, maybe a handwritten note and I take the time to honour my feelings about the day.

I think the decision to celebrate, grieve or simply pass through Mother’s Day is an entirely valid choice. At this point, I can wholeheartedly say I don’t have any plans. I have ideas sure, but I make space for what I feel is right, which might look like watching Pride and Prejudice for the 100th time, cuddling my doggo Gracie or simply sitting in the feels and getting through the day.

I know I’m not alone in being a motherless daughter, there are countless others and those with strained or complicated relationships with their mums or motherly figures earthside or beyond.

While the overflowing aisle of heart-shaped pyjamas and Mother’s Day cards can be overwhelming it can often feel like there isn’t space for grief among the brightly coloured celebrations. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that other people see that this day represents more than just one of joy, that it can be griefy and complicated and ultimately that’s okay.

I love that more businesses are acknowledging these types of days are difficult for some and have opt-out options in their emails. Sometimes I wish people would be more tactful like this and I’m all for an opt-out button for certain conversations, like “It’s been a while since she died…” or “Shouldn’t you be over it by now?”. Okay, unsubscribe.

While we may pass each other, perhaps equally avoiding the posters and marketing reminders, there is comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. That there are people, perhaps just an aisle away that share the common bond of grief.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

If it’s an emergency please call 000 immediately. 

2 Responses

  1. Lovely post Liv and very relevant for many people. I think it’s great that business are offering the opt out option. I’m triggered by Mothers Day although for other reasons and love the idea of opting out of all the marketing. You will see me in the alternative aisle also.

    1. Thank you for your kind words lovely. It can a hard day for so many and for so many different reasons. I’m sending you my best and I’m never to far in the aisles of life x

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