When A Daughter Loses Her Mother
Insights on Dealing With Your Loss
Articles abound on grief—the stages, how to cope with loss, and when to seek help. But it’s harder to find resources on what is “normal” when a woman loses her mother.
You may think your situation is unique; maybe you had a very close friendship with your mom. Or the opposite may be true; you weren’t close at all—perhaps even an abusive or neglectful environment was your experience as a child. For many of us, it was somewhere in between, and we are still trying to figure it out.
After my own mother died, I spoke with many women on how they dealt with their mothers’ death. There were some things that seemed to be common to most of us, and this may be of help to those newly grieving.
First, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Intuitive grievers are usually (but not always) female, and express their grief openly.
Some people are instrumental grievers; they are the stoics, and males are typical of this group. They feel the pain of loss, but try to problem-solve their way through it.
If you have not been able to cry over your mother’s death, it’s okay. Are you normally an emotive person? If not, then this may be the way you deal with the world. It is possible that you are modeling behavior of a parent—probably your mother!
Maybe you are doing fine, but then a song comes on the radio, or you come across one of your mother’s belongings, and you dissolve into tears. This too, is normal, and can happen months or even years after the death. Grief is not continuous, and there is no timeline. Be gentle with yourself. It is not uncommon to fall into a funk a year or more after your mother’s death. This is because the loss begins to feel permanent.
Do you have alternating feelings of sadness, anger, regret, guilt, or loneliness? These are normal responses to grief. When the death occurs suddenly, there is no time for closure—getting answers to questions you were afraid to ask (like did you ever really love dad) or finding out their final wishes, or asking forgiveness, and having the chance to say your goodbyes. Even if the death was not sudden, issues can go unresolved; we always think there is more time to talk about the important things. You finally realize that your relationship with your mother was what it was—and the possibility of changing it is zero.
This can be agonizing—BUT…you can get through it, in time, with loving support from friends, family, clergy—or other support systems. And more importantly, your mother most likely KNEW what was (and is) in your heart; verbalizing is not always easy or even necessary.
But know this: If you are feeling pain, it is because there was a real, loving bond between you and the person who gave you your life. It doesn’t matter what the BUTS are; you are the person you are today in a good measure because of your mother. So there had to be some good, even if there was also some not-so-good. And if you are fortunate enough to have had a close mother-daughter bond, rejoice in the life you shared together. Your memories will one day make you laugh and smile…and the pain will become less and less. Many blessings on your journey!
Learn More About The 5 Stages of Grief
- Kubler-Ross, The Stages of Grief
In this Wikipedia article Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross explains the stages of grief that many people experience when a loved one dies.