This event provides a welcome alternative to Mother's Day for those experiencing loss | TasteToronto
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This event provides a welcome alternative to Mother's Day for those experiencing loss

For many, the barrage of gilded cards, bouquets, pastel-hued foods and emails that Mother’s Day inevitably brings isn’t just overwhelming, it’s a sharp reminder of loss. How does someone without a mother spend a day directly dedicated to her? For Amanda Katz, founder of Motherless Day, the best way is with meaning, surrounded by others who know the pain of death, the brilliance of love, and the fog of navigating life without mom.  

“It's a pity party that you actually want to go to,” muses Katz, of the event she has planned for May 12th.  “We’re just hoping to create a space that’s open, commemorative but also celebratory. I want people to enjoy themselves on a day typically spent not enjoying themselves.” 

Having lost her own mother over seven years ago, Katz is no stranger to facing Mother’s Day from a different perspective than most. “For anyone who’s lost a mom there are specific days that hold more meaning,” she explains. “A birthday is one of them, an anniversary of their passing. But both of those are really unique person to person. … The one that holds true for anybody who has the shared experience of losing a mom, or even having an estranged relationship with one, is Mother’s Day.”

A day with a build-up that rivals the one to Christmas, Mother’s Day has become inextricably intertwined with gifts, special menus, flowers and other treats aimed at helping people express their love for their mothers. “Rather than getting excited about all of that, you’re reminded that Mother’s Day no longer looks like that for you.” 

This May 12th, through Motherless Day, Katz is reaching out to others who find themselves in a similar situation to hers. Taking place at Paris Paris, the lunch is “for anybody who needs a space to go on Mother’s Day,” she explains. “That can be someone who lost their mom, to someone who is estranged from their mom and they no longer have a relationship with her. It can also be someone whose mom is on the other side of the world and they want to pay tribute.” 

The goal, she adds, is to shift the narrative around Mother’s Day. “I think it’s synonymous with a lot of things when you have a mom but there’s no way it’s supposed to look when she’s gone.”

Served family-style, the lunch will include a welcome cocktail or mocktail along with dishes ranging from classic beef tartare with grilled sourdough to roasted chicken and impeccable Paris Paris fries. Dessert from Cry Baby cakes will cap off an afternoon of sumptuous bites. 

“It’s a hard place to be depressed in,” says Katz, of the event’s venue. “It’s got good energy, a lot of windows, good music, great food. I just felt that it would be a beautiful spot to do it. It felt like a place I wanted to be.”

The event will also include activities, such as flower pressing, care of White Oak Flower Co., and card writing with Good Neighbour

Comedian Shohana Sharmin, known for the sketch comedy revue Dead Parents’ Society, will also be performing. “I wanted to make sure that the person speaking wasn’t talking about the loss of a mom without having experienced it themselves,” says Katz. “I wanted to make sure that it was somebody that I felt had the right to talk about the loss of a mom.”

She adds, “in the same realm as Paris Paris is a hard place to be depressed, I didn’t want somebody to come in and just talk about grief. I wanted them to try and do things in a way that’s a little bit more lighthearted.”

A portion of Motherless Day ticket sales will be donated to CAMH, with a separate fundraiser giving those not participating in the lunch a chance to take part. Created in partnership with Team Motherless, the team at Paris Paris will be selling a specialty, non-alcoholic drink (made of pineapple, lavender, rose, lime and soda) during lunch service on May 12th in support of the hospital. 

“My mom struggled with bipolar disorder her entire life,” explains Katz. “She actually passed away by suicide. … CAMH is Canada’s leading mental health hospital and they do a lot of work in the realms of mental health research but also into suicide prevention and destigmatization, and I think conversations around it are really important.”

In the years since her mother’s death, Katz says she has always felt adrift on Mother’s Day. “I wished there was a place for people like me to go and there wasn’t.” Instead of waiting to find it, she created it herself. 

“Ultimately, I just want a space where people are like, ‘Oh, I have a place to go now. There’s a place where I can share my story. I can share my mom’s stories. I can be surrounded by people who actually get it in a way that most people don’t.’” 

She hopes attendees will finally feel peace on Mother’s Day in the company of others living similar experiences. “In everything I’m doing, I’m really trying to strike that balance. Have a space that’s safe and we can talk about the sad parts but let’s also talk about the good ones.”

For tickets, visit To donate to CAMH through Team Motherless, visit