Happy Mother’s Day Wishes From Dr. Mercola

mothers day

Story at-a-glance -

  • Mothers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. You play a key role in building our next generation. Mothering is a full-time job, in addition to whatever career or commitments you have outside of your home
  • Preparing and eating meals together provides a great opportunity to pass along family traditions and helps children learn to value a sustainable food system
  • Gratitude produces measurable effects on a number of bodily systems, including beneficial effects on mood and pleasure-related neurotransmitters, reproductive and social bonding hormones, cognition, blood pressure and more

By Dr. Mercola

I want to wish all of you moms out there a Happy Mother's Day today. If you're a mom, I want you to know I think you have one of the toughest jobs in the world. You play a key role in building our next generation. Mothering is a full-time job, in addition to whatever career or commitments you have outside of your home. Your job doesn't end when your kids leave home either. Your adult children of all ages can still find comfort and strength from your words and embrace.

dr mercola mom

Mother's Day, Without Mom

Today is the first Mother's Day without my mom. She passed away unexpectedly on July 6, 2017, two days before my 63rd birthday. My sister called me early that morning; it was a Thursday. As soon as I heard the tone of her voice, I knew something was wrong. I was afraid she was going to tell me that our father passed away. He was 88 at the time. When she said it was mom, time stood still.

For a few moments, I just held the phone in my hand and said nothing. I was somewhat in shock and definitely in denial. Maybe this was a just a nightmare. Losing her left me feeling devastated. In the days that followed, a flood of memories surfaced without warning or permission, and the feelings that came with them were overwhelming at times. My memories sabotaged my sleep and derailed my best efforts to accomplish my daily tasks.

In the beginning, I felt a physical void that's difficult to describe. I called my sister several times a day and cried with her. I imagine that many of you might also be grieving this year, and my sympathy goes out to you in a fresh new way. Some of you might also feel a sense of emptiness or loss surrounding your relationship with your mom.

Maybe it just isn't what you hoped it would be, due to circumstances beyond your control. Or she might be physically present but emotionally unavailable due to illness. Your roles have reversed, and you are caring for her the way she cared for you as a child. Reading the book "Letting Go, the Pathway to Surrender,"1 by Dr. David Hawkins really helped me in the early days after I lost my mom. David was a brilliant man and this was his last book before he passed. I deeply regret I never had the opportunity to interview him.

My Mom Believed in Me

dr. mercola and mom childhood

I am tremendously grateful that my mom was supportive of my dreams during my childhood, and she encouraged me in my goals and aspirations throughout my life — whether I envisioned becoming a priest or an astronaut, or eventually embracing medicine and becoming a doctor.

I remember reading Bible stories daily with her when I was very young. This played a large role in stimulating my passion for learning and reading. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. I believe her emotional support in my early years was a significant force behind whatever success I have in life and it propelled my desire and ability to share health truths with you.

She loved me unconditionally. There may have been times when she didn't like me, but I know she always loved me. I recall a number of mischievous childhood stunts I pulled, including getting in trouble with local authorities. Even through rebellion, she believed the best and supported me.

Work Hard and Love What You Do

dr. mercola and her mother

At an age when most people retire, my mom started a new career. For nearly five decades prior, she was busy serving others as a waitress. Some persistent foot pain came out of it, which was only relieved by spending less time on her feet. So at 68 years old, I convinced her to start working at my medical practice.

In no time at all she made new friends, learned how to send emails, fax and scan documents, and file as needed. Technology didn't scare her. At 75, she mastered the basics of using a smartphone and would regularly text my siblings. This was no small feat, but she was determined to learn.

Mom looked forward to working each day. It gave her a sense of purpose and belonging, and I firmly believe it extended not only the years she had, but the quality of them. Retirement isn't for everyone, and it certainly wasn't for her. She was used to moving all day long and physical activity was important to her. Exercising in a gym, however, was a new concept for her but she fully embraced it at 74 years old.

Family Meal Time Is Priceless

My mom loved to cook and I have many memories of time together around the table for meals. She loved having her kids together after we had all moved out. No matter how busy we were at that time of life, we gathered often for dinner. It brought her so much joy to prepare and share a meal with family.

I also learned the value of spending time planning and cooking in the kitchen from my mom. If you can't do that for yourself, I hope someone you know can do it for you. My mom did the best she could to provide healthy meals for her family.

  • Families who make an effort to eat together at least three or four times a week enjoy significant mental and physical health benefits
  • Children and teens who regularly eat meals with their families have healthier eating patterns, better relationships, better school performance and fewer psychosocial problems
  • The benefits of family dinners depend on the extent to which you use the time to genuinely connect and engage with your children
  • Preparing and eating meals together provides a great opportunity to pass along family traditions and helps children learn to value a sustainable food system

Be Grateful

When life gives you lemons, you can still make lemonade. My mom struggled with depression on and off at times in her life. Thankfully, she made it through every battle and came out grateful for her life and everyone in it. She had a strong faith in God and thanked Him for his many blessings daily.

Gratitude produces measurable effects on a number of bodily systems, including beneficial effects on mood and pleasure-related neurotransmitters, reproductive and social bonding hormones, cognition, blood pressure and more. Importantly, it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory cytokines, which are often elevated if you have chronic disease. Health benefits associated with gratitude include:2,3,4,5

A greater sense of pleasure, as gratitude stimulates your hypothalamus (a brain area involved in the regulation of stress) and your ventral tegmental area (part of your brain's "reward circuitry," an area that produces pleasurable feelings)6

Improved sleep7 (especially if your mind has a tendency to go into overdrive with negative thoughts and worries at bedtime)

A higher likelihood of engaging in other healthy activities and self-care such as exercise

Higher relationship satisfaction

Improved work performance (in one study, managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees' performance)

Reduced stress8 and emotional distress, in part by improving emotional resiliency

Enhanced well-being9 and improved mental health by triggering the release of antidepressant and mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin, while inhibiting cortisol

Improved heart health,10 reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease

Reduced inflammation and pain

Improved immune function11

Comfort From the Clouds

double rainbow

This double rainbow appeared on the day my mom passed away as I was going to the beach for my daily walk. There are some interesting incidents that brought me comfort after my mom's transition. When I returned home after her funeral and went through my mail, I was completely caught off guard by one piece of mail.

I recognized the handwriting immediately. A birthday card from my mom. She must have mailed it the day before she died. She always remembered birthdays and holidays and loved sending special cards to everyone she loved. I feel so privileged to have received the last card she ever sent before she passed. I wasn't prepared to say goodbye to her so quickly but I'm grateful for many things.

I am especially grateful my mom was able to live as long as she did and diligently followed my health suggestions. It gave me great joy to hear her refuse many of her doctor's recommendations to place her on meds that she did not need. She never had to endure diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart attack, stroke, cancer or dementia.

Thankfully she lived long enough to see all the time and sacrifices she made in raising our family. My mom was always very proud of me and that was a powerful motivation for me and one of the primary reasons I am so motivated to try to change the world to be a better place. Thanks mom, I will always remember and love you.

doctor mercola and her mom