Monday, May 8, 2017

In Grief: Daughters Mourning Mothers

[Reviewed and updated June 3, 2024]

When a mother dies, a daughter’s mourning never completely ends. ~ Hope Edelman

A reader writes: Today I visited your site for the first time and I have decided to share something I wrote with you. This fall I lost my mother less than a week before my son's wedding. I have been grieving for both my empty nest (3 adult children have moved on with their lives) along with the loss of my mother. Each time I feel lonely or sad because my kids have grown and left the nest, I feel deep pain for having caused my mother the same grief. Relationships with parents are complicated; expectations, irritations, personality quirks, being a 47 year old daughter, etc. Along with the emotional connectedness we had with one another, my grief includes loss for my mother as a friend.

And for her support and constant love that was available whenever I felt the need and which I most definitely undervalued. She was there to call, from Illinois to California, just to chat, connect, share trivia about my kids or grandchild or find a recipe. Anyway, I write to you to thank you for your thoughtful site. And also to send a poem. I wrote this with one of my sisters in my mind and heart. Her loving eyes, mirroring her feelings of loss, and how I feel experiencing my own
emotion of loss:

Your love
Silent streams
Slide down
The slope of your cheek
Past an upturned smile

My throat
A choking frog

My response: Thank you so much for sending me your extraordinary poem expressing your heartfelt feelings about the emotion of loss, and for sharing with me your thoughts about losing your mother. 

As the parent of two grown sons, I, too, know the feelings you describe -- the older I get, the more I realize how wise my mother was, and I miss her terribly. When she was alive, I completely underestimated the pain she had endured as a mother and the anxiety she must have suffered simply from worrying silently about her own grown children. Now that I am in her place, I know first-hand that a mother never, ever stops worrying about her children, no matter how old they become. And in many ways it's worse than when they were little, or even when they were adolescents, because the choices they make as adults are completely beyond our control, and yet we must accept and live with the consequences of their choices. 

The hardest thing for me to do with my sons as they grew older was to respect them as adults, trust in their decisions, and (once I'd shared my wisdom) keep my doubts and worries to myself. Now of course I see that this ability was one of my mother's greatest gifts -- but I did not notice it at the time. 

I can also tell you that you will never, ever stop missing your mother. She will always be a part of you, and the bond you have with her will remain with you forever, just as long as you keep her memory alive in your heart.

If I could have your permission to post your beautiful poem on my Grief Healing website, I'd love to place it in the Comfort for Grieving Hearts section, with the proper attribution, of course.
In any case, I wish you and your loved ones a warm and peaceful holiday, and I thank you again for taking the time to write to me.

[Note: Permission to publish her beautiful poem was subsequently granted by this reader; it now appears on Grief Healing's Comfort for Grieving Hearts page.]

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