Day 4: When daughters grieve the death of their mothers

January 4th, 2013 § 37 comments

Today I’m posting a link as well as the original text of this piece my mother and I wrote in 2011. I encourage you to read the comments there. The comments have continued to come in on this one, especially during the recent holidays.

One reader wrote:

My mom passed away six years ago, when I was 24, after a five-year battle with cancer. I’m getting married in a few months and I’m finding two things difficult: 1) going through a big life change, and the actual planning of the event, is making her loss feel much more at the forefront than I expected; 2) I’m struggling with marrying someone who didn’t know my mother and doesn’t understand (and honestly, not sure how he can, not being there) my grief.

My questions are: how do you help the new people in your life know the person you lost and understand the depth of your grief? And how do you deal with the new kind of grief that comes with entering a new phase of life?


My mother, Dr. Rita Bonchek, spent her career as a psychologist specializing in grief, loss, death, and dying. She had some thoughts on the subject. I decided to add my own take on it; that perspective appears after hers.

Dr. Rita Bonchek writes:

In American society, the topic of death causes great discomfort so people do not think about or discuss the subject. When the death of a loved one occurs, the bereaved are often encouraged to put the occurrence in the past. Freud felt that the mourner needed to ” let go” in order to move on. However, when Freud experienced the death of his favorite grand-child, he often expressed with great sadness that he would never get over the loss.

What is not appreciated about the death of a loved one is that “Death ends a life but it doesn’t end a relationship that lives on in the mind of the survivor.” Some studies have shown that mourners hold onto the relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects.

A childhood death of a parent can be a devastating event. How the child grieves is extremely individual and based on the child’s age when the parent died, the cause of the loss, the quality of the parent-child relationship prior to the death, and the support system available both at the time of the loss and afterwards. If a surviving parent removes all items and pictures of the deceased and does not talk about him or her, the child is denied the grieving process. The secrecy and the inability to have a shared grieving between the child and family that shares the loss is a travesty.

The mourning for a mother never really ends. Even after many years while there may not be active grieving, there are what one child called “mommy-missing feelings.” And what does a mother provide for a daughter: support, advice, a significant person who can help and validate the child during development. No one else is so uniquely important to the child as a mother who helps her to form an image of herself. With this self-image, a daughter is helped to determine how to interact with the world and the people in this world. A daughter’s feelings, thoughts, hopes, desires and attitudes are influenced by a mother. But this mother does not have to be the mother who existed in real life but who is a mother who exists in the daughter’s heart and mind. This is a mother who is carried within a daughter forever.

When a mother-daughter relationship has been strong and positive, a mother loves a child in a very intense and special way. A daughter will miss a mother’s protectiveness, loyalty, encouragement, praise, warmth, and, as the daughter becomes a woman, an adult-to-adult friendship. There are special times in the developing daughter’s life in which the absence of a loving person is painful: graduation, confirmation, Bar/Bas Mitzvah, a wedding celebration, the birth of a child, etc. This is when the wound is re-opened.

Who the daughter was when her mother died is not who she was after the painful event. Every death of a loved one changes us and causes us to re-grieve the loss of other loved ones. Hope Edelman, in her book Motherless Daughters encourages women to acknowledge, understand and learn from the changes that occurred as a result of the early loss of a mother. It can take years. With reflection and understanding of what was lost when her mother died, a daughter can, with greater sensitivity, become her own role model as she creates a strong family and friend network of her own.

I had the following additional thoughts:

Even though the death was six years ago, it happened to you at a time before marriage and/or motherhood. While not relevant to all women, these are often defining events in their lives. While you had your mother for your childhood, oftentimes daughters do not fully appreciate their mothers until they become wives and mothers themselves. When you no longer have a mother to admit “now I understand what you meant” or “I’m sorry for how I behaved as a child” it can feel that there is unresolved business at hand. Not being able to ask, “Is this how you felt on your wedding day?” or “What was your day like?” is difficult.

Of course, a wedding is one of these events that is tied to family. How can you possibly explain the ways in which these occasions make you miss your mother? As my mom said, it’s not just the relationship you had that you grieve, it’s the relationship you could be having now. There is no way to fill that void, no one can fill that space. I think that incorporating your mother and her memory into your ceremony may provide a way for her to be remembered and present during your wedding. Because your fiance did not know her, he will not miss her in this event. You will, however, as some of the guests at your wedding will too.

It’s a common misconception that talking about your mother or acknowledging her absence will “make people sad.” On the contrary, I believe that talking about her and her absence is appropriate. One way I think this is appropriate is to mention her in the wedding program and/or light a candle during a portion of the ceremony that names those who are “special to us but not here to share this day.” I have seen an acknowledgement of special friends and family who are deceased but remembered on this special day. A paragraph, properly worded, could mention your mother’s role in raising you, making you who you are today, and how you wish she were here to share this occasion. Similarly, wearing a piece of her jewelry or clothing (like a veil) or carrying her favorite flower in your bouquet might help you feel closer to her on the actual day.

Grief sneaks up on you when you least expect it; the reflexive reach for the phone is a hard habit to break. Both happy and sad events can make you miss loved ones. Every little thing reminds you of your loved one, the things you did and the things you had yet to do. You grieve the relationship you lost and the one you had yet to build. The relationship was truncated, and that cannot be fully appreciated by someone who has not experienced it.

I don’t know if you have shared a lot about your mother with your fiance, but I think it’s important to do so before you get married. I think it’s important to write about her and talk about her with him. He’ll never be able to understand fully, and he’ll never miss her since he didn’t know her as you did. But he does need to understand how important she is to you now even though she’s no longer alive. That may not be intuitive– although your mother died six years ago she is still a very important part of your life.

It’s important to say that not all of the memories surrounding your wedding would necessarily be happy; after all, weddings can be prime opportunities for mothers and daughters to clash. However, the pivotal moments of walking down the aisle, first dance, photographs, and so on can be especially difficult.

Sometimes when we grieve we don’t know exactly what we need, and in the end, no one can provide the “fix” for us — that could only happen if our loved one came back. Realizing that you don’t really know what you need all the time as you go through this is important, too. Something your fiance says might be incredibly aggravating one minute (a reminder that “he just doesn’t understand”) but other times the same thing may strike you as supportive. He’s in a tough situation because he’s trying to support the woman he loves on a day that is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your lives together. However, it has a component of pain involved for you. He needs to accept that dialectic and not try to gloss over or erase the pain that will accompany all of the happy days you will have together. He needs to know that grief will be a part of every happy event you will have in the future because your mother is not there to share it. The sooner he can accept that truth, the better it will be for both of you, I think.

I hope that some of these thoughts will help you in the months leading up to your wedding and that you can find a way to incorporate your mother’s memory into your ceremony. I know she will be in your heart and on your mind.

§ 37 Responses to Day 4: When daughters grieve the death of their mothers"

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for posting this. I lost my mother 7 months ago to Breast Cancer and am getting married this coming June. It helps to know that there are others out there who understand why this has compounded the grief.

  • Linda S. @whatevergirldc says:

    Thanks, Lisa. I lost my mom 11 years ago and I’m still sad :-). In Feb 2012, I lost my dad during the same year my son was having his bar mitzvah. My dad was the person most looking forward to the ceremony. It was very difficult, but we continued as planned. We remembered him in the program and put a framed picture up of him with our son in the foyer of the temple. It was beautiful and was easier than I thought to talk about it during the service, mostly – I think – because I was surrounded by a lot of people. It’s always much harder when you’re alone. Thanks for posting this. I wish you all the best. I don’t know you but follow you on twitter. I always look forward to reading your posts. Thank you for sharing.

  • kcecelia says:

    I loved this piece the first time you posted it, and I love it more now. I’ve thought a lot about this subject because I actually had the opposite experience of the “strong and positive” one your mom describes. Only a few friends knew about this as it unfolded for me, and I have never spoken (or written) of it publicly before. My mom had serious postpartum depression when I was born, was not maternal, and had a profoundly difficult childhood she kept from her four children. I was in my 40s when my dad, with whom I had a close and loving relationship, but who was often gone for work, died. It was then I finally “met” my mom, after the loving buffer provided by my dad was gone. It was difficult to face the reality of who my mom was and had been in my life, particularly since she was such a wonderful person in so many ways: she kept a “perfect” home with wonderful meals, books everywhere, stories and poetry read, the history of places we traveled to read to us aloud, crisp sheets, hung to dry on the line, ironed, and folded into a linen closet filled with lavender sachets; she was smart, well-educated, well-read, refined, funny, caring and informed about the world. It felt indescribably terrible to realize she had not felt love for me as an infant and as a child. I am lucky, that through much hard work on my part, which she responded to, at first with great difficulty, but also with great strength, acknowledgement, regret, and love, that we now have a particularly loving relationship, and are close friends. There is a psychological concept that states that surviving a negative parent can make us stronger; that is true for me. My mom’s incapabilities, that came from her own past, and how that affected her ability to respond to a child with my particular temperament at a particular time in her life, have had some adverse effects on my life, but have also made me both a stronger, and, I hope, a more compassionate person. My mom is 91 years old now—I had atypically older parents—and her sharp mind has recently been adversely affected by an illness that caused a lack of oxygen to her brain. I know I am now beginning the process of losing the woman I have only fully found in the last 12 years of our lives. I told her on the phone recently how much I will miss our talks when she dies—she and my dad always gave their children the gift of calling death by its name, speaking honestly about it as a part of life, and preparing for it—and she said in a voice filled with honest emotion and gratitude, how much she loves me and will miss me. As she is losing her mental capacity, which grieves me deeply, I also know I now have her love forever, and that is a priceless gift. It is a gift to me from you that you reposted this particular piece on my birthday, a day that my mom and I reminisced about yesterday. So, thank you. xo

  • Particularly poignant for me as I move into the unknown beside my mom, terrified of what is ahead. I want to be hopeful. I’m following her lead right now but I remain realistic. Many decisions will be made in the next several days as more info is available. I’m grieving what she may have to face (or what she may choose not to face). Thank you, Lisa for your support.

  • Heather Bain says:

    Thanks for your advice- my mom will have been gone almost 3 years to the day when I go down the aisle. I never thought I was going to find the one but she always believed I would. So to finally meet the one who will love me forever and to not have her here as we plan our wedding is so difficult- more then I imagined it could be. The ideas for lighting a candle in her honor and using her favorite flower in my bouquet are great ideas. Hugs to all who have lost their loved ones.

  • What a beautiful, meaningful writing…That must have been hard to share publicly, but it obviously has impacted many. Absolutely inspiring

  • BEth says:

    My best friend, guide my mama pased 3 ddays ago

  • Bobbie says:

    Love this♥

  • Minnie says:

    Dear Lisa
    I have read your article many times in the last 3 days. I lost my friend, philosopher, and guide- my mother- 4 days ago. I can’t sleep, think, or be normal. I’m thinking of her all the time. I don’t know how to start my life without her. Im36 and am married and have kids, but my grief is taking over my life and affecting the lives around me.

  • Ash says:

    For everybody suffering- I lost my mommy too. She was the love of my life and I miss her soo much. I’m only 15, lost her when I was 11 ); It gets better. If I can do it all of you out there can too. Just know that she would be proud of you.

    • Ash, I’m so sorry for your loss of your mom. I lost my mom at seven years old. I am now writing a book on mother loss. I’d like to interview you or at least talk to you. Thank you. You can click on my name and my blog comes up.

    • Ash, I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear mom. I lost my mom at age seven. That’s why I am writing a book about mother loss. I sure would like to interview you, or at least communicate with you. Click on my name and my blog will come up. Thank you.

  • Uttera Singh says:

    Thank you for this post!

  • W says:

    I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer Dec 2nd 2010, it took a long time for that morning to stop replaying in my head. I miss her so much . I have been experiencing a strange feeling besides the grief, sometimes when i see mothers and daughters interacting….I miss her more….I am getting married soon and I understand completely what your post says….I never thought she would be missing on my day….I understand rationally her departure and the reality of death but sometimes ,its like my brain forgets for a minute that she’s gone, and when it’s back to reason a shrug ,like mental hiccup happens …I have come to understand missing her is something that will live with me and I comfort myself with the belief that part of her still lives with me,within me and that we will certainly meet again when it’s time InshaAllah.
    Thank you Lisa,it feels good to talk about it
    God bless you and your mother

  • Katie says:

    It will be 3 years this June since my mom passed away. My now fiance and I had been dating 7 months and we hadn’t yet done family introductions. We were in our late 30’s and being very conservative and taking our time before getting families involved. Sadly, my mom’s death was quite sudden so he never got to meet her, but met the rest of the family at her funeral. Hardly ideal. I wish every day that we weren’t so selfish and that they could’ve met. I never realized just how important her opinion and acceptance meant until it was too late. So here we are 3 years later planning our wedding and all the guilt and grief sneaks up on me at the most random times. I’m finding it so difficult to make decisions and trust them. I’ve purchased a dress but am constantly second guessing it. While my sister’s have been wonderful and reassuring, it’s just not the same. I know that planning a wedding and shopping for a dress with my mom would probably have been stressful with my mom (we shopped horribly together!), I wish every day that she was here to reassure me. And while I am so excited to marry my fiance, the thought of doing it without my mom breaks my heart. In addition to that, my dad has dementia and is in a wheelchair and it’s questionable as to whether or not he’ll be able to make it to the wedding. So again, this should be the happiest time of my life but is often times sprinkled with sadness, grief and guilt. Thankfully I have the love of my fiance and family to help me through the tough days. I like to think that she’s always with me and will be my guardian angel on my wedding day.

  • Sunnie says:

    First, thank you all for sharing your experiences,my heart goes out to you. My Mom died when I was 12 y.o. , that was 33 years ago. As Mother’s Day approaches, I have the empty sinking feeling of my Mom not being here with me. The pain and her loss comes at me like a storm that can’t be stopped. Over the years, I do think of her often, and feel comfort in knowing she’s watching over me, and the pain of her loss has lessened, but never has gone away. I loved her with all my heart. I too went through a wedding and birth of a son without her. Katie, I wanted to say to youYes, she’s your guardian angel. You will come to a place that makes you feel better in making decisions , because she’s watching over you, and you will feel it. On Mother’s Day (days before as well) I feel so sad without her. I am a,Mom now, and my wonderful child whom I love dearly will make it a special day for me, but I feel guilty that instead of enjoying my day I’m only, missing her and I’m hurting inside. To others here I wanted to say thank you again for reminding me & others we are not alone. Sending a big hug to you all .

  • Jodiannsouth says:

    I am crying for mummy now i miss her its been 12 years now even tho i never knew her i wish i did i miss u mom

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this article, it has been 14 years this year since my mom passed and it has been the hardest years of my life being an only child and going through such a transition. But everyday I pray for strength and hope that my pain of missing her daily will get easier.

    Thank you everyone for sharing your beautiful stories.

  • lisa says:

    I wanted to say thank you for your post.

    I lost my mom 2 months ago. She was 53 que was sick for 6 months and still there is still so much that i will miss of her. And there is so much exciting things í cant tell her. Her grandkids going college or the awards guey get in school or even advice. I use to talk to her everyday and some dont understand.what can í do to help my grieving í dont drink í try n stay busy but un still so very lost.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It has spoken to my heart. I’m always wondering how I’ll get through future events with loss of my mother at 13yrs old and my little sister that was about 8yrs old when we lost her to car accident in 2011. I wonder what I can do to help myself and also my sister when she gets to the age where she will need me to support her. Your post helped me out a bunch. Thanks so much for posting. God bless you.

  • Rosesandash says:

    I lost my mom two weeks ago today. We just had her funeral on Saturday. I had a very dysfunctional relationship with my mother all my life. My mother was a single parent. She tried hard to always be prefect. She hater being criticized and she abused me and my sibling in the privacy of our home. She was a very stern woman. She didn’t tolerate lying and stealing. She loved music and dancing. She used to call us little nicknames and buy us our favorite stuff. She kept us dressed well and we always had a nice house. My mother lived off of SSI benefits and took care of seven kids with less than 1500 a month for 31 years. My mother experienced a lot of pain in her childhood that she took into her adulthood. She carried a lot of grief around. Eventually, she developed a drinking problem that she later dropped, but was left with failing health after years and years of being angry and self destructing. She used to be really nice to me and my siblings sometimes, but then sometimes she was really mean and I was very afraid of her. When I moved out on my own at 18, it seemed like my mom just kind of was happy that I was gone. Like I was a burden to her while living at home. I developed jealousy and resentment towards my siblings and my mother. I could never understand what it was that bothered my mom so much about me so over the years i distanced myself from my entire family. My mother acted like she hated me sometimes in my adulthood. I am 29 now and my youngest sibling is 16. I had been separated from my family for the past 6 or 7 months. I used to see my mom around town sometimes but I would never stop and talk to her or come by her house because I wanted to keep the peace in my life. It’s always just a matter of time before chaos breaks loose in our family when we all are together. Then about 3 months ago I started seeing one of my siblings again and we have been talking regularly since then. A month ago, my sister called and said that mama was in the hospital and sick again like she was a couple of years ago. I reluctantly went to the hospital becuase I thought that she would pull through just like last time. She was in the hospital on oxygen for 15 days. On about the 12th or 13th day, the hospital staff started changing their tones from “we’re going to help her” to “it’s not looking good”. Within (what seemed to be a matter of minutes), my mom was gone. her conditions kept worsening, she kept developing new conditions and then she died. Me and my sister were in there with her at the CICU in the hospital and we had to watch our mom die. Now, they said she died then, but the way my mother looked was sad and grotesque and my sister and I believe that my mother had already made a spiritual crossover prior to her physical crossover. I was distraught. i always trained myself to believe that I don’t need my mother and now she is literally in everything that I do. I can see her face smiling at me. I can remember all the things she said to me growing up and suddenly everything makes sense now. All of her grief, I understand. I wish I could look at her and see the satisfaction in her face when I say “Mama, you were right about everything”. My mothers life was a sad tale. She died at 49 and I feel like for all the years I criticized her and told her that she wasn’t good enough as a mother, I deserve to die with her. Her life has ended and I feel like my mom die feeling sad and under appreciated. I wish that I could have her back just for long enough to tell her that. But i know that I can’t. I know that she contributed to our relationship being rocky, but somehow what she did doesn’t matter anymore because she is the one who died. death is sad. Looking at her laying in that casket was so surreal. I know it was her, she looked like herself, but I just kept feeling like that wasn’t my mom because my mom isn’t dead. But she is. I feel awful and I may never get over this. Having to see your mother laying lifeless in a casket makes you appreciate EVERYTHING. knowing that she couldn’t feel that kiss on her forehead. Kissing a dead body that no longer feels like your mother’s wars skin but a cold leather couch. Watching her face and looking at her body hopefully while your mind plays tricks telling you that it looked like she was just breathing or looking for a twitch in her eyes just to feel like you can tell her something once more and she will hear you. IT HURTS. My mom is gone. What the fuck do I do????

    • Lisa Allman says:

      I too just lost my mom and we had a rocky relationship. She taught me so much, hurt me, loved me. I forgave her and had a few good years.. not great..she had a painful, difficult childhood (from a physical problem) and was very smart. I learned that there are 2 types of mother. Some that are devoted and show there love and others that do not show it but feel it (although you really wouldn’t know). Forgive yourself. Learn from the good and the bad. I am a mother and I don’t want my son to feel for one second as lost and unwanted as I felt. He is the joy of my life. One example of the weird…I sent pictures of my son…she sent them all back after keeping them for a few years. She was a strange one but with her loss yesterday, I now know that I did my best. She did her best. It hurts and all that is left is love. Please love yourself and realize that the best will have to do.

      • Doreen says:

        I think she sent the pictures back because she knew she might die. My mother did the same thing. I think they were precious to her, and she did not want them lost or thrown out after she passed.

    • Lisa Allman says:

      Write a Poem..use this-make it your own.. step one to forgive..Mom never saw it.

      I had as much of a chance, Mother
      as the mouse in the garage.
      Skittering across the cement floor

      You made me a world
      of old books and painted sunsets on seashells
      sweet lullabies and whispered dreams

      I was your little blackberry
      brown skinned and sun bleached hair
      Freckles scattered like carelessly tossed pepper

      you left my sand castle
      with the man that picked you up on Saturdays
      abandoned like a tiny shell on the shore

      I was unaware of how soon
      you would retreat like the tide
      covering our tracks in the sand

      You left me
      easy prey for the sleek cat
      soft mouse left cold

    • sunnie says:

      I’m sorry you lost your Mom, I can only offer what I experienced myself as I lost mine too. It will take time to come to terms with all you feel. I’ve never gotten over my Mom’s death, but to a place of peace. I miss her still. You’ve reached out to your siblings, and that in itself should help you and them at the same time. Whatever it takes for you to sort out the bad feelings I know you’ll find it. In the meantime , know that you’re not alone. Losing her feels bad enough, let yourself grieve. The pain will lessen, be there for each other, you will find your own way through it, and I’m sending a huge hug, and praying for your peace.

  • Eric says:

    I just lost my Mom two weeks ago, and am having a hard time with the fact that she won’t be here with me anymore. I’ve asked her for a sign, but haven’t seen anything. All I want to know is that she’s okay, and that I will see her again someday. Hopefully soon.

    I deal with depression, and this was my worst nightmare. She was sick for several years, had her ups and downs, but seemed to be getting better. Then pneumonia set in and things got worse. I was her caregiver for five years and did everything for her. I also worried about her 24/7, almost literally. Now I don’t know what to do with myself, and I don’t want to go on without her.

    I just saw a picture of her and it made it much harder.

    My condolences to all of you who’ve also lost your moms.

    • sunnie says:

      Dear Eric, know that you are not alone. You’re pain will lessen, your Mom will be with you in your heart, she will watch over you. The most important thing to remind yourself is how selfless you were caring for her for all that time. To remind yourself of the wonderful qualities you have within yourself.

      You’re more strong than you know. I admire your strength too, as not everyone could do what you did for your Mom. You’ve helped others by sharing your experience, I thank you for having the courage to share your heart, You have what it takes to make a difference in this world, pray for guidance and strength. I too felt depressed, and still do sometimes. Mother’s day is one of the hardest days for me. I reached out to find a counselor, the strongest people are those who can say they need guidance. Be proud of who you are, your Mom is proud of you and you have a lot to offer others, and make a difference.
      Sending you a hug Eric, thank you for just being you!

      • I echo sunnie’s comments to Eric. Eric you have many of your mom’s qualities because you carry on that caring attitude. You were a wonderful son to do all that for your mom. You go on strong and make your mom proud of you from heaven! Pass it on, and you can be a beacon of light to others because of what you have endured. I am also thinking about writing a book about son’s who have lost their mothers too. Right now, I’m working on a book about women who have lost their mothers and the hope we have in heaven. You can email me at or go on my blog at called “Tablet of your Heart” THANK you to LIsa Adams for being so strong and courageous.

  • Doreen says:

    Me and my mom fought like cat and dog. She had a gambling problem in the end and did not look after herself. She kept coughing, and I told her about 4 years before her death to have the cough checked out because it could be cancer. I still remember her looking at me saying, “Really?” then laughing and dismissing my comment. She was sooo difficult, I never pursued this with her because I harboured a lot of resentment towards her. She was a single mom, and basicly very frustrated with many things, me not least amongst them. She could be very loving, helpful and generous. Other times she said very cruel things, and played favourits. I asked my brother who is older than me if he remembered her hitting him, and he said no. I can remember her hitting me, with a coat hanger, a wet wash cloth, the back of her hand. One of my earliest memmories is her slapping my hands because i was “into everything”. Towards the end when I brought this subject up she just said, “You deserved it.”. We helped each othe out a lot, and she always listened to my many, many complaints. Emotionally I was twisted up like a pretzel when it came to her. It turned out it was cancer. She kept the lumps hidden and went on to gamble away her life savings, expecting me to look after her in the end. I always told her I could not look after her in the end because like her, I was a single mom and had to work. But I was also so angry with her–she lived in my basement apartment, and refused to pay rent. All her money went towards the slot machines. In her last months, when she went to the hospital, I refused to accept her back into my home, because I knew she would require a lot of nursing care, and I was still angry and working full time. I made my wonderful brother look for a care home for her, but the hospital decided to discharge her quickly into a group home. She pleaded with me to let her go back home… my wonderful brother pleaded with me to let her go back home. I said no. I worked, but spent many hours with her at the group home. But I never said, “I love you” to her. She asked why I was there, and I told her, “because it is my duty as a daughter”. She turned her face away, I guess there was really nothing to say to that. I made sure in the last 2 weeks before she died, there was family at her bedside–my wonderful brother could not be there because, he had to work. He arrived a few weeks earlier and stayed as long as he could, tactfully leaving the room (with a little grin on his face) when I changed her diapers. 3 days before she sank into unconciousness, never to awaken again she said her last sentence, a gasping barely discernable, “I love you…”.

    Well. I still grieve for her. And miss her. And sometimes the anger re-surfaces just as strong as when she was alive. And then the guilt and regret take hold of my heart, and I wish I had taken her home. And I wish I hadn’t sat there like a dummy silent. I wish I had said, “I love you too mom” when she sank into final unconciousness.

  • Karissa says:

    I lost my mom 9 years ago to pneumonia. I am 14 now and it hasn’t gotten any easier. I was 5 and I didn’t really understand what happened to her. I knew she was gone, but I thought she was going to come back. My older brother told me it was my fault she died and I believed him for a couple years. My dad and family stopped talking about her a lot after she died and I haven’t ever talked to anyone about her death or how much I miss her. I have more memories of the day I was at her funeral than of the 5 years we spent together. I just heard her voice today on a recording I found out we have. She had been holding the camera when I heard her speak and I didn’t even know it was her because I couldn’t remember what she sounded like. After she died, I couldn’t spend the night away from my house for years because I was afraid that when I got back to my house someone else would be gone. About 6 months ago I found my 17 year old brother passed out on the front porch because he was so drunk and I had a panic attack because I thought he was dead. I couldn’t take the thought of another person dying after my great aunt, grandpa, Mom, and one of my friends dying. No words can describe what losing your mother feels like. It never gets easier and I will always miss her. Reading this has helped me understand that I’m not alone and that living those 5 years with her did help to form the person I am today, even if I can’t remember much from those years. I’m living my life for my mom and God. I want to make sure that my mom and God are looking down at me from Heaven with proud smiles.

  • Hi there, thank you to Lisa Adams and I see her blog remains after her death. I see that so many women still long for a place to share their memories of dear mothers. I am writing a book and would love to hear from those of you who are of the Christian faith, because that is what my book is based on. My mom died when I was seven years old. The comfort of heaven and other women helps us through. Please reply to me or go on my blog, “Tablet of your Heart” at, or email me at I would love to compile stories. I’ve begun to record them, and then transcribe, but I think many of you could help me write an anthology of stories to bring hope and healing to others! Thank you!

  • GAIL CHYPYHA says:

    Comforting..I lost my mlther 1 year and 2 weeks ago…this article was helpful…I hope it will help others that have lost someone very close to them.

  • Sukie dorsey says:

    I miss my Mama so bad. This year will be 26 years. Time helps to deal with it, but I never never have quit missing her. When I think of her, which is every day, I swell up with tears. She was my best friend in this world. I do feel her with me, though. I believe she cheers me up when I’m down. I will see you Mama, one day. I love you, always and forever.

  • Lanita B Jackson says:

    My mother died while I was in prison as a result of my drug use. She raised my son. Now that I am sober I can’t let her know how much I love her and appreciate her. It’s driving me crazy. I can’t sleep.

  • Rachel Ewing says:

    I lost my mom on 6/22/17, I lived with her for many years..
    Was planning on moving out a long time ago but circumstances prevented brother died at a young age at 18 in 1998 of cancer..
    She also had cancer for a few years was stable until late spring..
    I believe she knew she was leaving us as early as last year..
    She urged me to go ahead with future plans..many years ago she wanted me to get married or live with a boyfriend..whatever I decided to do, she was just always worried, I told her I would have to manage, when she would say what if I wasn’t here?
    She doesn’t need me anymore so I will go on with my life, try to feel better but it’s hard, I wonder if she thought it was her time, she used to go,into my brothers room and I found an email, she dreamed about him every day in the last year, this is why I would hear her get up and go to what used to be his room..
    Back in may, she said its history repeating itself, she wanted to be able to keep her hair for as long as possible, she had only lost a small amount..
    When she first went into the hospital in mid may, she hugged me goodbye and told me she loved me, I did the same, I didn’t know if it was for the last time..
    I saw her a few more times after that, she worried that she was getting worse, she wanted me to travel, always worrying more about me than herself..
    At 46, I’m used to loss, but it’s still hard, I had her in my life for a long time, possibly longer because of a kidney transplant in 2003, I’m grateful for those extra years, she loved to quilt and make pillows and purses, I have so many things she made me..
    I will miss the birthdays and Christmases..
    I worry about my dad, he can’t clean out her closet or anything..
    My niece will miss her even though they only saw each other once a year..
    I found her journal, she was trying to find meaning, I hope I will too..
    The last time I talked to her, she thanked me for helping her, she said she knew what it was like to have a disability, she understood what it has been like for me, having trouble walking..she raised me to be strong and independent, we were close, I will miss our outings at festivals and museums..great memories to carry with me..
    She had wanted me to deal with her dying, she said we have to..I had hoped that was a bit further down the road..sadly she will not get to see my new place or my wedding should I choose to get married well into my 40s, perhaps she will be with me in spirit no matter what I decide..she always thought my brother was with us in spirit..I will carry on, someday maybe it won’t be so hard to deal with..
    At most, from the research I did, she had a year maybe 2, at most..I had to deal with it a little bit sooner sadly..I am confident we said everything we needed to say over the years..I’d like to talk to other people, it might help, hope to get a few replies, if I can help anyone, please let me know, we’ve all been down this road..

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You are currently reading Day 4: When daughters grieve the death of their mothers at Lisa Bonchek Adams.