To my lady friends and fellow motherless daughters — women of all ages, women I know personally, women I have connected with through social media because of my status as a motherless daughter, and women out there who I have never met but share the same grief with: My broken heart aches for you. I know the loneliness you feel and the pain that comes with missing your mom.
I was 19 when my mom died in 2009, and at the time of her passing I did not think about the long-term grief that I would battle for the rest of my life. I did not know that as time moved forward and my life evolved, I would wake up some mornings completely fine and by the end of the day, I would be in tears because I just missed my mom so much.
Becoming a motherless daughter happens in an instant — the moment she takes her final breath is the moment your life is forever changed. I will spend the rest of my life longing for her, and that is the burden of being a motherless daughter — a burden many of us know too well.
Know that you are not alone.
You miss your mom, and we miss ours, too.
I used to think that no other person in the world could possibly understand the pain a woman faces when she loses her mom at a young age. Then, I found Hope Edelman and discovered that I am not alone.
I found comfort in Edelman’s “Motherless Daughters: A Legacy of Loss,” and became inspired to blog my experiences as a motherless daughter. While my site has morphed into a little more than that over the years, it still maintains the foundation it was started on.
I don’t want any other women to feel the loneliness I felt during those early years as a motherless daughter. You are not alone and you do not have to be alone. Do you also feel like nobody in your life understands what you are experiencing at a motherless daughter? Message me, I am here and I will listen.
Cry. Whether you are 12, 24, 42, or 102,
if your heart hurts and you miss your mom, please cry.
As I was driving home one day this week following a particularly mentally exhausting day at work, I just wanted to call my mom. After nearly eight years without this woman, I still get the urge to call her to empty my heart. On this day, I had what felt like 100 thoughts racing through my head at once — mostly about my upcoming wedding — and I wanted more than anything to tell her what I was thinking and let her expert advice calm my restless mind. Instead, I cried. For 20 miles of backed up interstate traffic and back road stop-and-go, I cried.
And it felt good to cry and release that build up of emotion. I am the type of person who never sheds a tear in front of others. I was conditioned to never cry in front of my mom after her diagnosis for fear of upsetting her more. During that time, I often would sneak off on a hike or take a shower so I could cry without her seeing. I suppose that stuck with me into adulthood because I can only cry if I am alone in my car or at home.
It hurts to miss and want someone so deeply and know that they are gone. That is why it is OK to cry. We all have days that feel more difficult and weigh on us more than others. You have faced one of the most painful experiences of your life and have earned the right the cry.
If you do not want to confide in someone, then don’t.
Talk to your mom instead — whatever that means for you.
As motherless daughters, we learn that no other human will ever fill the empty space left by a mother’s passing, and nobody can replace the love we receive from our mom. Losing that mother-daughter connection is one of the toughest parts of the journey, and as you move through it, more and more people will offer you their ear for support. Do not feel guilty or bad if you do not want to talk to them about your loss or any other aspect of your life.
I have tried to create a connection with other women in my life, but it is not the same. My mom is the only person who would understand my excitement over thrift store finds and second-hand furniture, and actually be excited for me. If I tried to tell someone about a new-with-tags White House, Black Market dress I picked up at Goodwill for $4, the thrill of the moment would be completely lost on them.
I find that I talk to my steering wheel more and more these days because it stimulates the feeling of talking to my mom, even though I am not getting a response. It is less painful than confiding in someone and having them inadvertently destroy my joy.
I discovered this trick recently when I decided to go back to school to get my master’s degree. I had not told anyone yet and was excited to share the news with a particular person. Their reaction crushed my spirit. They were not excited for me, not like my mom would have been, at least. Instead of asking me questions about the program I am applying to they changed the subject. And that was the end of the conversation about me continuing my education. I don’t think that they intentionally hurt my feelings, but I would rather not feel that way again.
Be mad. If that is what makes you feel better at that moment, then be mad that you lost your mom.
I still get mad at the fact that I had to be the one to lose my mom. Why me? Why did it have to be my mom? And when I see the relationship between mothers and daughters around me, I get jealous. I envy those women who get to experience all of life’s grand moments — graduations, marriage, pregnancy and childbirth — with their mom.
At the end of the day, you are only human. There is no shame in being angry at your situation. You didn’t ask to be a motherless daughter. But do not let that anger consume you, do not unpack your bags and live in that anger, and do not let that anger make you cruel to the rest of the world.
Losing your mother does not come with a how-to manual and nobody can tell you how you are going to feel and when you are going to feel it. Continue to take life as it comes and remember that all you can do is your best. And when you miss your mom, miss her with the entirety of your heart.