Rules for the Motherless Daughter: Three

26 Apr

“why motherless daughters grieve forever”

To you who searched for this, I wish I had a simple answer, an easy answer that would roll off my tongue and into your ears.

However, I don’t.

I have long answers, conflicting answers, weird answers.

The one thing I noticed after my mother died was that everyone wanted to rush the process-within a year, people treated me like it didn’t matter anymore, like nothing happened. I should “get over it” I should grow up. It shouldn’t have impacted me as it did.

Newsflash: when you’re a little girl, and your mother dies, and your entire world turns inside out, you don’t just get over it. There’s a hole in your heart that never heals. For the rest of your life, you turn to talk to a mother who isn’t there. You crave acceptance from a woman you barely knew. You grieve the loss of “would have been” and “should have been”

You spend your life trying to get over it, and find you can’t. It colors who you are. If someone asks you to say something about yourself, the first thing you say is “My mother is dead.” You expect loss-if you can’t reach the kids and your husband, you think the worst. Someone must be hurt! and you go into planning mode. You anticipate the hurt in order to shield yourself from it.

I will never stop missing my mother-no daughter ever will. Regardless of her absence being due to death, mental illness, or abandonment. A daughter will miss the mother she should have, the women who should help her find her place in the world. She expects a mother, needs a mother.

She will never, ever stop wanting her arms around her, her words in her ear.

Not ever, not once.

Don’t rush the grieving. Don’t tell her it’s over, it’s better, she’s better.

Forever is a long time indeed.

18 Responses to “Rules for the Motherless Daughter: Three”

  1. katsplace April 26, 2007 at 12:44 pm #

    This probably won’t cheer you up any but I know that my mother still has periods where she actively grieves her mother and catches herself walking to the phone to call her. My grandmother died 37 years ago in Oct. She was 65 and my mom was married with 4 kids in her mid-30’s.

    I can tell you that I still grieve her. I grieve more for what I think I have lost. I was 4 when the cancer ate her. I miss having memories of a loving grandmother. I miss having the warmth that I am sure I would still feel knowing I was her best girl. I miss having had someone who would have just loved me during the times when I was wasn’t very lovable and my parents had to be disciplinarians.

  2. jkdufair April 26, 2007 at 1:17 pm #

    Emma asked if she could call Mommy this morning. Fucking killed me. I had to stop making breakfast and crouch down and explain to her that she couldn’t in some language she could understand at 2 years old. I don’t know if I was successful. I don’t think so. It’s so hard to see my kids go through what you describe above.

  3. thordora April 26, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    oh god Jason…..I look at my girls and think-how would they survive it? How would my husband survive it?

    It’s so not fucking fair…

  4. marcelarhodus July 26, 2007 at 1:49 am #

    Reading this is something that I needed today… been really down and have actually thought lately that my kids would be better off without me, and reading your rules is making tears run out of my eyes… thank you for granting access to this.

  5. thordora July 26, 2007 at 8:23 am #

    oh…well thank you!

  6. Bridie July 9, 2008 at 7:05 pm #

    The thoughts you express above are so true, so heart breakingly true. I can’t tell you how much I wish it wasn’t true because the loneliness and pain and wishing is exhausting and sometimes I would just like a rest from all the pain of her not being here anymore. My daughter asks me all the time, ‘do you think nanny would think I am pretty in this dress’ or ‘can we go up to heaven just for a little bit to give nanny a hug’. I really want her back, even when I am happy I am sad. I just don’t know how to come to terms with the fact I will never see her again.

  7. Susanna July 19, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    I lost my mother 10 months ago and it’s amazing to me that people really do expect you to “get over it.” And “getting over it” IS NOT going to happen… like you said, it’s just not the missing of your mother, and the loss of who you had, it’s ‘the loss of “would have been” and “should have been.” ‘ It’s the staggering realization that your mother won’t be there when you graduate, when you get married, when you have your first kid. The guilt that surrounds each day thinking that “if I had only known” I would have snapped out of that petty “Mother-Daughter head-to-head” phase a little more quickly. It’s feeling cheated out of a true friendship that you never got to have.

    Thank you for writing this, I *needed* to find it today.

  8. thordora July 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    You’re welcome. Take your time. We grieve differently, time moves differently…it’s all relative.

    And I’m sorry for your loss.

  9. Kendra November 2, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    I lost my mom 10 years ago. I was 16. I have never sought the words of someone else who has lost thier mother. None of my friends have. And I am still lost at 26 and a mother of 3 children. When times are rough, I want mama. When I am joyous, I want mama. When I am depressed, I want mama. There is a void in my life that I have tried for 10 years to fill and I think I just now realize that no one can fill that void. My dad and brother both have married and it seems as if they have moved on. sometimes i think that I’m abnormal. But then i have to remember that my developement as a woman and what a woman should be has been cut short. I was ripped off so to speak. So everyday I search for some kind of way to figure me out.

  10. Kim November 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    I just miss my mom. I never in my wildest dreams thought i would be a motherless daugher. I am grateful that she got meet my children and that at least the older ones still remember her. But the baby will never remember how great she was. i don’t understand how God’s plan for me could be to rip my heart out & tear it into peices that can never be put back together again. How can He expect me to be a good mother after He has taken away my best friend and role model? It will be 7 months on Tuesday and it still feels like it was yesturday. Even the happy moments of my life are bitter sweet now that my mom is not here to share them with me. People tell me she still with me that’s fine and dandy for them to say but you know what she’s still dead I can’t hold her or hear her voice. I can’t see her smile. thank you for letting me vent.

  11. Hilda December 10, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    My mother Eunice died when she was only 27..I was only 2..I am 57 now and finally closer to being with her..I have 3 brain tumors and a mass in my liver..All my life even when I got married and had my 4 sons, I felt lonely for her. Seeing how many have Moms even at my age still alive.
    My father is alive and chose to remove me when I was only 16 from High School..He loved his 2nd wife more then me..You tell me how much pain that has caused me..He only came to visit me once in my 37 yrs. and hardly knows my sons and husband.. I’ve read the Bible and that was good for me..I know that God didn’t make junk..That I am a worthy person..I pray for other little children..I pray that people can have compassion when they lose their mothers..Not put aside and left alone
    to get by in this world by ourselves.. I’ve had people tell me to get over it…I wish I knew what I know now and I would have told them “Your mother is alive and mine isn’t”..When she dies I’ll tell YOU to get over it..
    My sons have to deal with my situation now..It’s heartbreaking.. But they got to know me and be with me…But it won’t be easy for them..There are many memories that death can’t take away…hugs to all, Hilda

  12. kayleigh December 28, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    yah i totaly get that. my mom deied 6 years ago and when i talk about my moms death i constantly get, she is still with you. but screw that because i cant hug her, i cant hear her voice, i cant feal her touch, i cant have a conversation with her. I feal lost and confuzed and i always wish that i could give her one last hug.

  13. Amy Jo March 1, 2009 at 1:53 am #

    Thank you for posting this. I live by this philosophy and stress this to all of the women I know who have recently lost their Mothers. The people that go around telling others to “get over it” obviously have not experienced loss before and shouldn’t be listened to.

    My mother died shortly before my 16th birthday. Next year will be 20 years. I miss her everyday-especially now that I’m planning a wedding. It really sucks not to have her here right now.

    Books by Hope Edelman to read:
    Motherless Daughters
    Motherless Mothers

  14. Barbara March 26, 2009 at 1:22 am #

    My mother and I were extremely close. When she died I was 56 and she was 86, yet we had lived together for most of my life (prior to purchasing a condo and later getting married) So close that at one time in my life I thought it would be better if I went first. Others (my older sister in particular) felt I was too close and would have an extremely hard time getting over her death. She seemingly has moved on. Maybe because she has a son. In my case, I have no children (which really distressed my mother who thought I could still have one after 50), am recently divorced and have started a couple of new jobs. When my mother became basically comatose (the day before she died) and could not respond or seemingly recognize me it was too much for me to bear. As a result, I took the easy way out and was at home when something said “Go see her now”. I arrived ten minutes after she expired. Strangely, the nurse claimed she had tried to call me, but in actuality she was calling the wrong number. She had transposed my number! I always say it was my mother calling me to let me know she was leaving. Provblem: I feel a lot of guilt for not being at her bedside (or at least at the nursing facility) when she took her last breath. I had been vigilant for the entire two months she was in the hospital up until her last 9 hours. Strangely, I felt she had already left consciousness and was on her journey and I did not want to impede the process with her looking back. I was being told to give her permission to die. That it was time to let go; but, I did not want to. I did not want to say”Good bye”. She always said, “Don’t say ‘good bye’; say, “See you later”. When we could talk I spoke to her and was by her side every day. I even gave her a party in her hospital room a week before she died. For some reason, I was under the impression that she would “let me know if she wanted me to be there when she died” for I had heard so many people speak of having been with someone for hours only to step out to get a cup of coffee, or something to eat and the person died while they were gone. During the two month hospital stay I tried to stay strong for her by not crying around her, but I boohooed at home. Sometimes I feel this was a mistake because it might have shown her just how much she would be missed and maybe allowed her to cry around me. But, she usually did not show tears around me so I tried to copy that. I sure hope it worked for I learned later that I was in a state of shock during the arrangements, the funeral, and at least 2 – 3 weeks afterwards. I have been having a hard time every since. Since 1985, I had been the major care giver. I have an older sister but she claimed because we had lived togethe and she had taken cae of my grandmother (not in the same way) that it was bascially my duty to take care of my mother. I did not consider it a duty, but I did ask her to step up to the plate relative to doctor’s appointments, etc.

  15. Stacey December 8, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Thank you, I don’t talk about my mother much to outsiders, she died when I was twelve. It was back in the 80s when there was nothing done to heal the child. It took me years of sadness and wildness to grieve her, but I never had any real support. Like you my father suddenly had a little girl to take care of, a man so different to myself and my mother. It took escaping to the mountains and loosing myself deeply to find my core, and accept everything. I speak so little about my mother now not because I don’t think about her or miss her but because for so many years I used her as an excuse, now I treasure her memory and the gifts that she did give me.

    • thordora December 8, 2009 at 11:30 am #

      That’s all we can do after all-is remember. 🙂

      thanks for the comment.

  16. kianys September 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    You said:

    “Newsflash: when you’re a little girl, and your mother dies, and your entire world turns inside out, you don’t just get over it. There’s a hole in your heart that never heals. For the rest of your life, you turn to talk to a mother who isn’t there. You crave acceptance from a woman you barely knew. You grieve the loss of “would have been” and “should have been”

    I feel as though you saw streight into my heart and soul! This is exactly how I feel! I lost my mother 27+ years ago when I was only 2 1/2 years old and I mourn for her everyday – It has altered me and sometimes I feel broken me in ways I can’t begin to describe.

    I started my own blog here on wordpress only a couple of days ago in search of other motherless daughters – someone I could relate to – someone who could relate to me – someplace where I would not feel alienated.

    Please, if you or someone else reads this would you help me finding “kindred spirits”. It would feel so relieving to finally be able to talk to someone who understands – I don’t know any other motherless daughters and there are no support groups where I live (Bonn, Germany).

    Just reading the little part quoted above gave me hope, that there might be someone out there – thank you so much for that!

    XXX, Kianys


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