Losing a mother is essentially like losing your first love, and one of the greatest people you’ll ever know, all at once. It leaves a void that cannot be filled no matter how many years or decades pass by.

Former journalist and public relations executive L.K. Alexander-Bedford knows this feeling firsthand. She lost her mother when she was only 11 years old.

Now in her early seventies, Alexander-Bedford is the author of Straight from the Heart and Spirit of a Mother, a tome full of sage wisdom and advice aimed at women who, like her, struggle with the pain that comes with losing a mother. The book is intended to help motherless daughters draw comfort and strength on occasions, such as Mother’s Day, when it can be incredibly difficult to push forward.

“I wanted to be the kind of woman I know my mother would’ve continued to be had she lived,” Alexander-Bedford explains. “I received calls from other women, who told me how much my book helped them, but I didn’t realize that my book was also a savior for me.”

A mother’s love is irreplaceable, and the grieving process is complicated; nonetheless, here are four tips from Alexander-Bedford on how you can survive and thrive this Mother’s Day.

Expect and accept

Over time, the pain of losing your mother will subside, but you’ll never get over her death. Expect that there will be days when you feel strong and other days when you can barely hold it together because you miss her. Accept that all these emotions are OK. “Your mother’s death is not an easy thing to get over. It takes time and you need to give yourself that time,” says Alexander-Bedford. “However, know that your mother would want you to move on and, with that, expect that your future will be better.”

Talk to her like she’s right there

Your mother may be gone physically, but talking with her every day can help you feel as if she’s right by your side. Find your favorite picture of your mother and talk to that representation of her on birthdays, holidays, or whenever you need it. Talk to her about anything, including something as simple as how your day went. “It makes all the difference in the world,” says Alexander-Bedford. “Knowing you can talk with her anytime also helps with closure.”

Start your own tradition

Judging by the television commercials you’ll see this weekend, it may seem like Mother’s Day is reserved for those whose mothers are still alive. But Mother’s Day is for you, too. Did your mother like to sing, dance, garden or cook? What about painting or knitting? Whatever it was, do it in her honor on Mother’s Day. “My mother loved watching those old black and white movies, so my daughters and I find comfort in watching those movies together on Mother’s Day,” Alexander-Bedford reveals. “We keep it light and fun because it’s what she would want.” Though easier said than done, focus more on what your mother would want instead of the fact that she’s no longer living.

Talk about her

This can be difficult, especially if you recently lost your mother, but talking about her can be therapeutic. If you’re the type of person who prefers to grieve alone, that’s understandable, but confiding in others can bring comfort during a time when it’s needed the most. Start with your immediate family members and close friends. You may find that talking about your mother and sharing memories, in a way, keeps her alive. Alexander-Bedford says, “As long as your mother remains in your heart and mind, she’s still here.”

Princess Gabbara is a Michigan-based journalist whose work has been published in several national publications, including Ebony.com, Essence.com, BET.com, Huffington Post Women, and Sesi Magazine. Visit her site or follow her @PrincessGabbara.