1. What to Do When Your Mom’s Death Certificate Incorrectly Lists Her as Chicano

“My god, how embarrassing that we would mistake her for Chicano,” the lady at the funeral home will say, in a way that suggests she either hates Chicano people or thinks you do. You will want to clarify that this is not about Chicano people being famously awful, or famously immortal, but just about accurate government records. Even if you tell her you are a Chicano supremacist, though, she will keep muttering “Chicano” to herself like a remorseful house elf. Let it go.

2. How to Tell People Your Mom Died

You will sometimes want to minimize the problem by comparing it to more serious problems, as in, “She died, but at least apartheid is over.” Other times, you will want to downplay the news via hesitant questions—“I think my mom is like… dead?”—which can elicit responses such as, “Have you tried calling her cell phone?” Even when you send a group email to your closest friends, announcing her death, you might sign off with, “Thanks for your support during this shitshow,” because “shitshow” is a fun, casual word for a fun, casual death. It is better to tell people in a simple, declarative sentence, though.

3. How to Find an Outfit For Your Mom’s Service

You will buy a black sheath dress that hits above the knee, and you and your dad will wonder whether it is slutty. Your mom would know, but you are too young to have been to many funerals, and your dad only knows about fashions from the men’s department at Costco. You will call your friend Alice for a second opinion, which is actually a first opinion because you and your dad shared the non-opinion of “huh.” You will eventually return the sheath, to be safe; ideally, you will replace it with a knee-length skirt.

At your mom’s service, a single-file line of people will hug you and whisper, “I’m sorry for your loss,” until you reach Alice’s mom. She will instead whisper, “You don’t look slutty at all!” Although you are at a memorial service, you should feel free to high-five her. She is awesome.

4. What to Do With Your Mom’s Ceramic Birds

Loving your mom and loving the tiny ceramic birds she ordered online from her hospital bed are two separate things. This is especially true of the last one she ordered, which will arrive in the mail after her death. It will be roughly the size of a golf ball, and it will be glued to a hairclip.

Do not incorporate the surprisingly heavy bird into your only hairstyle (a look somewhere in between “bedhead” and “meth user”). You can just give the bird to your friend’s dog with bangs. It will look very festive on the dog.

5. What to Do When You Want
to Play the Dead Mom Card

Don’t. Playing the dead mom card to win an argument—unless the argument is about what your mom has been up to lately—is like playing the Hitler card. There is always a gentler way. When you want to say “omelets were Hitler’s favorite food,” or “my mom liked omelets, and then she died,” just say what you mean. You don’t want an omelet.

6. What to Do When It is Mother’s Day

You will worry that people will approach you on the street—because you are not with your mom or on the phone saying, "You are my mom!”—to heckle you. “No mom today, huh?” and “What day do you think it is, Labor Day?” and “Cat got your mom?” are all questions you will have nightmares about. Luckily, people never say these things. You can go outside on Mother’s Day. It will be fine.