The Dance of Connection

Rescuing women and men from the quicksand of difficult relationships.

"I still miss my mother"--A Message to Daughters

Mother Loss: We don't just "get over it".



Time will dull the edge of grief, but the loss of a mother is an emotional event of such proportions that we don’t just “get over it” after a prescribed period of time. When a mother dies prematurely or unexpectedly her death is more painful still.

The writer Anna Quindlen writes this about the loss of her own mother:

"My mother died when I was 19. For a long time, it was all that you needed to know about me…'Meet you in the lobby in 10 minutes—I have long brown hair, am on the short side, have on a red coat, and my mother died when I was 19…'. Sometimes I feel like one of those people searching for the mother who gave them up at adoption. I have some small questions for her…How did she get her children to sleep through the night? Was their olive oil in her tomato sauce? Was she happy? If she had it to do over again, would she?"

Give yourself permission to mourn your mother without impatience or self-criticism. Expect emotional ripples or even tidal waves to hit you years down the road.

You may miss your mom acutely at your college graduation, your wedding, the birth of your first child, when you reach the age your mother was when she died, and when your daughter reaches the age you were when you lost your mom.

You may miss her on her birthday, her death day, and Mother’s Day. You may miss her, as Quindlen says, when you stand in your kitchen and wonder how she made her spaghetti sauce.

It can be helpful to talk to other women who have lost their mothers to learn how they experienced their mother’s death and coped with their loss over time. Such conversations and connections can offer you comfort, insight, wisdom, and the understanding that you are not alone.

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is best known for her work on marriage and family relationships and the psychology of women. Her book The Dance of Anger has recently been reissued.

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