05/09/2014 12:17 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2014

Finding Comfort on Mother's Day When Your Mother Has Passed Away

For many of us who have lost our mothers, Mother's Day and the days leading up to it can be so painfully difficult. We're bombarded by endless commercials advertising the holiday. In stores, Mother's Day card displays are everywhere. Over and over, it's a blaring reminder of loss.

My mother was 54 years old when she passed away. Cell by cell, leukemia had ravaged her body. Chemotherapy and a punishing bone marrow transplant nearly destroyed her. And just one year post-transplant when it finally seemed that it was all behind her and at last she made it out of the woods, my mother contracted a fatal infection.

And she was gone.

I was 30. I did not want to be a motherless daughter. I was not ready for any kind of initiation into this club. I mean, is one ever ready to lose a mother? To those who lost mothers as young children, I was lucky to have her that long. Conversely, I've seen people with moms who make it to the high-90s and they're just as bereft.

Even now 18 years later, when I see one of those "celebrate the mom in your life" ads this time of year, I feel that same icky jolt that I first did when my mother's death was just too new, too raw. Those ads are a harsh reminder that I'm pressed against the candy store window -- watching, longing, still wondering why. How? How could my mother, so full of life, with so much left to do and give, have perished?

I had an opportunity to interview Hope Edelman, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Motherless Daughters to better understand the challenges of Mother's Day. "Transitions like graduations and weddings, and holidays such as Christmas and Mother's Day, activate feelings of sadness and loneliness," said Edelman.

In fact, Edelman explained there are ways to manage the day and perhaps even feel some comfort. Edelman offered her sage guidance on how to celebrate our mothers and ourselves. To learn Edman's wisdom, read the full story at Parade.