Birthdays, Birthdays without my mother, Death, Family, Grief, Grief stories, In honor of my mother, Love, Motherless Daughter, Mothers and Daughters, My mother's birthday, Writing on Grief

Still My Mother’s Birthday

My mother was born on February 18th. She’s not alive anymore but that special date, February 18th, whispers to me like a soft little hum in my ear all year round until February lands and I anticipate her birthday in all of its painful glory.

I asked Mam once what her favorite number was and she told me it was 18. So I know one of her favorite things. I don’t know her favorite color although I suspect it may have been a shade of purple, like lavender perhaps? I don’t know what her favorite food was or her favorite drink. I never asked her if she had a favorite book or a favorite friend? She had so many friends and was such a sweet person that I don’t think she would have admitted to having a favorite, but I’d like to hear her responses. I like the number 18 too. It’s probably my favorite number although before Mam told me hers, my favorite number was 8.

I was born in January, Mam’s birthday is in February and my dad’s birthday is in March. Three consecutive months of family birthdays beginning with mine at the very start of each new year. And we’ve been without Mam now since I was 11 years old. Yes, this time of year is trying for me emotionally.

Mam died in March, just three days before my dad’s birthday, and followed quickly by the hullabaloo of Mother’s Day which in Ireland, where I was born and raised, is celebrated a mere few weeks after the date she died.

Mam’s birthday and the anniversary of her death are quietly remembered by those who were closest to my mother. Dad and I call each other on those dates and some family members call my father on March 2nd which we appreciate. It’s a nice thing to do. But in the years since Mam died rarely does anybody else mention her to me on these sad but significant occasions. I understand that many people forget dates. People don’t want to bring it up, don’t want to upset me. But, guess what? I know what date it is and I’m well aware of what I’m missing. I haven’t forgotten. It is always nice to know that someone is thinking of you. To know that the person who meant the world to you is being thought of, that their death did not cancel out their memory, that your loss is recognized by those who love you is one of the greatest, most meaningful gifts you can give anybody.

Today, as always on Mam’s birthday, I’ll speak silently to her. I’ll wish her a happy birthday wherever she may be, and I’ll tell her I miss her and wish she hadn’t been taken from us so soon. This year I have a book written in her honor and it is ready to be sent out into the world when the time is right. I hope and pray that the time will soon be right. A LOVELY WOMAN is a story of mother loss. It is Mam’s story and my story, and it explores the universal experience of love, mother loss and grief. My memoir sheds light on early childhood anxiety and the ways we learn to cope and is a testament to family, resilience, compassion and truth-telling. I’ve poured my heart into this book.

Happy Birthday, Mam, wherever you are! You were born on this day many, many years ago and it is a special, wonderful, magical day. I’ll light a candle in your honor and browse through some photographs of us while sipping a cup of hot tea. Come sit with me while I browse? I have a feeling you will.


“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”

Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man


43 thoughts on “Still My Mother’s Birthday

  1. Anna says:

    This touched my soul. Both of my parents have passed. I feel like the rest of the world has forgotten that they existed. Thankyou for expressing how I feel in such perfect words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anna, thank you for your comment. I am so sorry for your loss! It is such a painful feeling to feel that the world has forgotten the existence of those we love. Sometimes people just don’t want to cause upset or they don’t know what to say. I think it’s important that we let those we care about know that their loved ones have not been forgotten. And of course they live on in us, and in our memories. Hugs x


  2. Michelle says:

    Lovely post. I lost my mother two days before her birthday which she shared with my father. It’s so hard to celebrate for him since it was a shared day and two months later I lost my grandmother on mother’s day. I can relate very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ashley Sponsler says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My mother’s birthday is also February 18th. We lost her 9 years ago 3 months after my second child was born. I’m anxiously waiting for your book and am sending you light and love on this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kasha baker says:

    I lost my mother on April 1 2016. Her birthday which I celebrated last year as I will this year also is November 17 th. Mother’s Day is the hardest but so are all the other holidays, week days and weekends. Her favorite color was blue. I will buy your book as I should love to read it and yes to have someone recognize their birthday besides just you is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Love and peace for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kasha, I am so sorry for your loss! Thank you for your kind words and I do hope to get my book out soon. I think that through sharing our stories there comes healing. I, too, find Mother’s Day the hardest. Take care of yourself!


  5. Josephine Durkin says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to your Mam. ❤️ Loved reading your wonderful story.
    My Mom passed on mischief night (October 30 in the U S) 2015. She was 87 which is a long time to be on this earth. I was blessed to have been with her when she passed. Something I prayed for.
    I think of my Mom throughout the day every day and know in my heart I will see her again in the afterlife. She is part of my being.
    On my Mom’s birthday August 21 I had a cake for her in celebration of her life and had family over. It made the first Birthday without her a little bit easier.!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kimberly Hochrein says:

    One year since my mom left this world.. I don’t suspect it gets easier. She passed 3 days after her birthday, after my sister’s birthday, 8 days after my son’s 21st birthday, 14 days before christmas and at the exact time that I was born into the world 8:27 pm.. all these dates and times are reminders.. for me right now reminders that she is NOT here..painful. maybe one day they will be memories of celebration..I don’t imagine that, though.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Best wishes for your new book. I will look for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Kimberly. The healing comes in waves and the grieving process is such a personal thing, different for all of us. It is very soon for you since your mom left this world and you have a lot of significant dates and times as reminders. I wish you comfort in good memories and love shared. It’s not easy. Sending you love and hugs.


  7. Tammy says:

    Today is my little sisters birthday. Becky would have been 49 today we lost her 13 years ago during childbirth you’re riding it hits home she left two daughters and I hope they read this Sunday thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Aoife Kelly says:

    This is such a moving piece of writing. I loved it. I can relate completely in terms of the significant dates and the importance of numbers in relation to a big loss like your mum and my mum. I will be 41 years old on the 25th of february and thats just a year before the age my mother was when she died my oldest girl is about to turn 8 in march which is the age was when she died…i cant imagine leaving her or leaving this world at this age with so much left to do. I know my mother would say live every minute but without her every minute is tinged with loss of what could have been. So many unlived minutes hours and days. Thanks Carmel for opening up to me and everyone its so nice to talk about this and for you to share your experiences with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aoife, Thank you for your words. I think about how painful it must have been for Mam to leave us at such a young age, as it must have been for your mother. And given the age of your sweet daughter I can understand how you must be feeling. As you say, there’s so much left to do. She is blessed to have you! Big hugs to you today and always and I will be thinking of you on your birthday. These special occasions can be challenging.


  9. Lori Gomez Hutter says:

    As a motherless daughter, the months of August & September are hard for me. You are right. No one understands. All my mother’s family have passed and no one speaks of her but me. Married with children of my own, grandchildren too, they never knew her so she is a leaf on their genetic tree. She is a part of them all that I see in different ways. When someone passes, I think of her meeting them in heaven as my envoy. She was that kind, welcoming person in life so I doubt her spirit is different. I hope old or young, she enjoys their tales of my life and knows I’m her daughter. My father passed after 38 years without her and I know she called him back to her so for that I’m am blessed to have their love ❤️ watching over me. Death is hard to understand and explain but a love for your mother is not. She carried me for 9 months and endured a lot to bring me to life. We were united as one for 4 years and then she was gone. Mama I miss you more as I grow older and live for the day we will be together.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alisha says:

    I get this. First, losing your Mom is awful and if it hasnt happened to someone, they don’t get it. My Mom’s birthday is 1 month after mine and my grandather passed on the day before Mom’s Birthday. Those 2 months are like hell to me, juat emotions that don’t stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Shantu Shah says:


    Passing away is like a colorful kite or a balloon from a kid’s hand that goes up and up until it rests in haven or more beautiful place than it tested before. Ballon may leave from kid’s hand but it does not forget that soft touch it had before and watches the kid playing on the earth from heaven above mixing with distant stars. Parag was six years when her grandma passed away.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kelly Brien says:

    This fits me to a T! You wrote exactly how I feel. My mom’s Heavenly Birthday is in Jan. then my birthday, her Angel Anniversary, and Mother’s Day. I’m hit pretty hard after Christmas not to mention Christmas was her favorite time of year. The only person who acknowledges any of her special times is myself and my husband. No one else cares. Thank you for your writing. I look forward to your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Eileen Bray says:

    Happy birthday to your Mam. Today is my birthday too.
    11 is so young. I am very sorry that your time with her was so short.
    My Mom’s birthday is Feb. 15 and she passed five years ago on Feb. 10.
    I’ll be thinking of you and your mother on this special day. Hugs to you. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dawn says:

    My mom has been gone for 31 years. I’ve lived more of my life without than with her. Her birthday is March 11. Every year I bake a cake and I don’t think anyone knows why. She passed on March 20, the first day of spring. Thank you for your article ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dawn for your comment. I’m so sorry for your loss. I, too, have lived more of my life without my mother than with her. I love that you bake a cake on your mother’s birthday. That is such a sweet and special thing to do. Sending hugs.


  15. Marian O Brien says:

    Happy birthday to your beloved mam. It was my mother’s birthday on Monday last, she is gone from us since 1960, when I was only 6…
    I told my nephew and he told his daughter Anna over breakfast on Sunday last, so we got to talk about Anna’s great grandmother which was nice, as I hadn’t heard anyone mention my mother for so long. May they rest in peace. xx


    • Thank you, Marian. And happy birthday to your mother too. You were only six when you lost her! Oh that is heartbreaking! I’m glad you got to talk about her with family. She deserves to be remembered and it feels good to bring our loved ones back into the conversation. X


  16. Jacqueline says:

    Happy Birthday to your Mam in heaven. Unfortunately I recently became a motherless only daughter. I lost my Mom this past November and she would of been 90 this past February 11th we were looking forward to it but God had better plans to be with my father my 2 brothers n my grandparents. I am the youngest i lost my brothers they were in thier 50’s only in the last 10 yrs thats when my Mom was starting to not to be as a strong women she was. Losing my Mom has affected me tremendously she was of French decent n was so classy loving my best friend. People say move on she’s in a better place its easy to say. I learned from my Mom’s death who really are my friends are its disappointing. But I will go on I’m alone so it’s not right now for me. I know my family is watching me n that gives me strength. I look forward to your book. That is a great tribute. This mother’s day will be my first without her i never missed one all my life. I wish you much success and I replied because I feel your sorrow.


    • Dear Jacqueline, thank you for writing. I am so sorry for your loss and the sorrow and loneliness you feel. Of course you are missing your precious mom and you always will. But you will carry her in your heart forever and she will be with you every day. Sending hugs as you navigate this challenging time. There are support groups out there if you need them and I blog and post frequenting to let others know there are those of us who understand the pain of mother loss. Take care!


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