Mourning and Missing Our Mothers
Daughters Share a Legacy of Loss
“When a mother dies, a daughter’s mourning never completely ends,” says Hope Edleman, author of the 1994 book Motherless Daughters, one of the first books to examine the emotional journey a woman takes when she loses her mother.
For most women, their mothers provide protection, support, and wisdom from birth, during youth and adolescence and into adulthood. When pivotal moments occur in their lives—graduation, marriage, motherhood—most women turn to their mothers for advice and direction. A mother’s death can mean a permanent cut of the apron strings and the loss of the most significant person in a daughter’s life.
“My mother was my best friend. And even though she lived in Chicago and I’m in Atlanta, we talked every day,” says Carla Kalip, whose mother died in 2001. “She was my hero and ‘she-ro,’ never failing to let me know she loved me unconditionally.”
“A daughter’s feelings, thoughts, hopes, desires and attitudes are influenced by her mother,” says Rita Bonchek, MD, a psychologist who specializes in grief and loss. “No one else is so uniquely important to the child as a mother, who helps the daughter to form an image of herself. Death may end the life, but it doesn’t end the relationship.”¹
“We’re still connected. I don’t say I’m grieving, I say I lost something that was very valuable to me and that was my mother,” says Earline Walker, whose mother died in 2006. “I’m so thankful to have had her in my life.”
Since the publication of Motherless Daughters, support and social groups for women who have lost their mothers have sprung up across the country. Many groups are ongoing, held throughout the year, while others come together for holidays, most significantly Mother’s Day.
A Unique Bond
VITAS Healthcare offers a special event called “Missing Our Mothers, Daughters Remember” as part of the bereavement services the hospice organization provides its patients’ families. Held at different times throughout the year in various VITAS locations nationwide, the event recognizes the unique bond between mothers and daughters. They invite all local women whose mothers have died to spend time with each other. During the event, attendees enjoy a meal, listen to a speaker and share stories and photos of their mothers.
“It is unique for an organization to recognize the mother’s role and offer an opportunity for daughters to come together and honor and recognize their mothers in this way,” says Carla, who attended a “Missing Our Mothers” event in Atlanta. “It was touching, emotional, lots of smiles and tears, but joyful.”
To find out if a “Missing Our Mothers, Daughters Remember” event is being held in your area, call VITAS at 800.723-3233.