Anniversary, Death, Family, Grief, Grief stories, Love, Mother Loss, Motherless Daughter

Thirty Years Without My Mother

On March 2nd, 1988 my dear mother, Kathleen, passed away. I was eleven and my brother was a couple of years my senior. My family stuck together through everything. In this way I feel fortunate. Dad, heartbroken but always kind and present, guided us through the tough times with a gentle, open heart. We didn’t see therapists or read about grief, we just plowed forward with determination and love. I don’t know if there were therapists around in Ireland in those days. Nobody spoke about therapists. Things are probably different now, although I’m not sure about that, but even as I got older if a person saw a therapist they were seen as weak, or weird. That isn’t the reason we didn’t seek one out. The thought just didn’t cross anyone’s minds. I didn’t know of any books about grief or mother loss either, though I was curious to find one. I secretly longed to read a book about a little girl my own age whose mother was sick and died. I wanted to know what another eleven year old girl would do in similar circumstances. Concerns about my impending years of puberty and how I’d tackle female issues without my mother took up space in my mind and I wanted to feel like I had a friend, even if that friend was a character in a book whose story was similar to mine.

I never did find that book. It wasn’t until many years later, as an adult, that I came across a book on the subject of mother loss. I’ve seen a therapist on a couple of occasions but honestly I never felt that I needed grief counseling. For certain, grief counseling can help people. It just wasn’t what I needed. Or perhaps I didn’t find the right person. Maybe the timing was off. I’m not sure.

Growing up I could talk to my father about anything and I relied on him for love and consistent care. He never let me down. We often spoke about Mam, and still do. I was always permitted to look through her things, wear her clothes if I wished and explore her belongings. It brought Dad happiness to see me enjoy what she had. I wear one of her rings every day, a ring that my father bought for her. On my wedding day in 2016, along with her ring, I wore a beautiful brooch of hers embedded in a gorgeous hair set made locally for the occasion. In our household we keep the memory of my much-loved mother alive to this day by keeping photos of us as a family around our home. We were able to move on with our lives, creating new experiences and memories, while treasuring openly the woman at the center of our lives.

It’s hard to imagine that Mam is gone from us three decades now. She was a vibrant, beautiful spirit in her healthy days, and a courageous, kind human-being during those tough years. There have been several stages of getting through the loss of my mother these past thirty years. For the first few I focused on being strong and happy, for my family’s sake, for Dad’s sake and for my own sake. And I was genuinely happy many of those days. Dad kept us occupied and busy, we had friends and a comfortable home, albeit without Mam. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, or understand it then, I know I experienced some sense of relief following my mother’s death because we had watched her suffer for such a long time. It was really hard on all of us to watch her illness progress. For many years we hoped, we believed, we prayed, but it went on too long and there was too much pain. After Mam died I was broken-hearted, but there was a feeling of lightness too. This is a difficult thing to explain to anybody who hasn’t watched someone they love suffer for a long period of time and it’s even harder to admit to ourselves. And of course now I long for even one more minute with her. What a miracle that would be!

Going through puberty posed challenges for sure. There were good days and there were hard days. I wanted to ask Mam so many questions. My friends and I surmised together but I longed to ask my mother about stuff. I wanted to know what her responses would be. My friends told me I wouldn’t ask Mam private things even if she were alive, but I knew that I would.

In my mid to late twenties I experienced deep sadness and regret over not having the adult woman to woman relationship I saw other women my age enjoying with their moms. I craved having a mother to love me in the particular way only a mother can and I knew my mother, a nurturing, loving person, would have given me that unconditional love. I missed her and I felt terribly hard done by. It was during this phase that I saw some psychic healers. The caring female healers, who appeared to have the ability to connect with my mother’s spirit, offered much comfort. What each one told me about Mam soothed me and I felt certain her spirit was close by at all times. Shortly after this time I began writing about my loss and connecting with other motherless daughters.

There are times when I feel deep pangs of sorrow and I dearly wish Mam had been granted a much longer life than what she was given. She would be eighty years old had she lived. But I allow myself to think and talk about her every day. Writing about her over the years has really helped me. I started this blog two years ago on this date and am happy to have connected with so many motherless daughters who have read and related to what I have shared. We all have our own stories, but we find pieces of our stories in other’s experiences and that connection with other motherless daughters and grieving individuals creates comfort and community. I am currently writing my memoir Briefly I Knew My Mother and I hope it might help others understand the journey of grief, in particular from the viewpoint of a young girl who is acquainted with suffering and loss from an early age. All grief journeys are different but those of us who have lost a loved one experience similar emotions. We are constantly riding the waves of emotions.

People ask if it will get better or easier over time, if they will ever stop missing the person they loved and lost. I lost my mother thirty years ago and I can say this; things do get easier eventually, the weight of the loss does lighten, but the void will always be there. I never stopped missing Mam and some years were harder than others. Why particular years were harder depended on phases and experiences in my life. The grief journey isn’t linear. Some moments are heavy and sad, while others are filled with beauty and joy. Life is but a collection of moments. We must find ways to move through these. Don’t take on too much at a time. Getting through a moment is easier than getting through a day or a week or a year. Find something beautiful in a moment and go with that into the next. Hold that person in your heart, keep them in your thoughts, but live as best you can in each precious moment.

The sadness we experience in grief is borne out of the love that grew within us for that particular person. Love is a tremendous gift. My mother and father showed me the true meaning of love by loving each other deeply and in their unconditional love for their children. I keep a photograph of my mother in a beautiful vintage style frame on a table in our hallway along with several items of beauty; candles, plants, fresh flowers and a bowl of lavender. I pass this pretty table frequently, glancing at Mam’s smiling happy face as I carry on with my day. Her spirit is with with me, I can feel it. No, it’s not the same as having her here in person; chatting together over a cup of tea, offering each other suggestions, my mother singing in her sweet voice, but it’s a comfort to me nonetheless. Mam has a prominent place in my heart, to this day, thirty years following her death, and a prominent place in our home.

Much love,

Carmel X

Like or follow my public Facebook page here where I frequently post articles, quotes & information about mother loss, grief and the writing process.



29 thoughts on “Thirty Years Without My Mother

  1. Miss Joanna R A Shrigley says:

    This resonates with me so much, as I lost my mother 30 years ago, when I was 7. I love reading your posts, and often share them to my Motherless Daughters NZ Facebook page. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your beautiful words. My mother has been gone 60 years and I feel your words as if they were mine. I wish my Dad could have been more like yours, but I believe my mother sent me guardian angels all along my life journey.
    Blessings to you.


  3. Lisa says:

    I lost my Mum on 29th February 1988, 2 days before you. I was 16. This years anniversary has been one of the hardest. It’s not just the missing of my Mum, it’s the sadness of what she has missed out on 😦
    Sending love xx


    • Hi Lisa, I’ve never known anyone to have lost their mother so close to the day I lost mine. 💔 I’m sorry for your loss. I relate to your words. If only they didn’t have to miss out on so much! It seems so unfair! Love and hugs.


  4. Jen says:

    Beautiful words. I can relate in so many ways. I lost my mother when I was 15 and it has been 16 years this past January 10th. It is horrible to watch them endure so much pain. My mother was diagnosed with cancer&a brain tumor.(I still get emotional writing or speaking of it&tear up) but she got radiation&chemo and the tumor went away but she had stage 4 cancer and only had a few months to live. We got to share the last Christmas with my aunt and her three children. I hold on to all the memories I have. She couldn’t walk at all and was down to bout 89 pounds and had to be helped to the bathroom because she refused to have a bag stuck to her. She was a strong, tough cookie, as they would call her. She showed me strength,courage,and so much more but no matter what she was going through, it never affected how she was to us and I am forever grateful for her. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I her up, I always said just like my mom. 👼
    I wish all our beautiful angels fly high and watch over us. God bless.👼👼💓❤🙌🙏🙏


  5. Nikki says:

    Wow thank you for your writing piece. On the 12th march my mother will have also been gone for thirty years. I was 18. I resonate with your story so much.
    The weight of grief was too much and I moved out and became independent. I never had that relationship with my father. I did the journey with my boyfriend who became my husband. (Married 25yrs this year). What I would have given to have my mum at my wedding or seen her grandkids. The weight of grief does lift but you still miss her every day.
    My step mother passed away eight weeks ago suddenly and I am now caring for my father who has Alzheimer’s. For the first time in thirty years my father talks now more about my mother. It is a very interesting and challenging year for me so far.
    I am so lucky to have so many friends and family who support me.
    I too feel like I have a guardian angel. Things happen with no reason and I get gut feelings, which I go with.
    All I know is to enjoy life and make memories. Love the people around because you never know when they won’t be here.30 years in the blink of an eye. ❤


    • Hi Nikki, thanks for your comment. We lost our mothers around the same time! I’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad you had your (now)husband as a companion down through the years. I understand what you mean about wishing your mom could have been there for your wedding. ☹ All the best as you navigate this challenging and unique year with new circumstances. Take care! Hugs.


  6. Allison says:

    Beautifully written and so well said. We just “celebrated” 25 years since my mom’s passing and agree it does get easier but it depends on the day or moment as you said. I was a month before turning 16 and so wish I had more time w her. We share her memory often – more so since my daughter was born as she is named after her grandmommy and I want her to know her and have a connection to her. I love sharing my memories with her. Thank you for sharing your journey with so many.


  7. Deborah says:

    I too lost my mother 30 years ago at age 11. My mother died of cancer December 17, 1987. The 30th anniversary was extremely difficult for me. I enjoy reading your posts because it’s comforting to know your not alone. Thank you for sharing your story!


    • Hello Deborah, thanks for your comment! Thirty years ago and you were 11 also! Oh my! Over the years, before I started sharing my story, I had no idea how many of us motherless daughters were out there, navigating life, figuring things out with our broken hearts. I’m so sorry for your loss and pain. This one was a hard one for me too.Hugs to you.


  8. Celeste Lawler says:

    I too lost my mother 30 years ago; on February 16, 1988. I was 37 years old. She was 67. I am now the age she was when she died. I feel a bit guilty or maybe ashamed is a better word, leaning that you were only 7 when you lost your mother. I lost my maternal grandfather when I was 7. And it was sudden & unexpected despite the fact that he was 83. I, like you, watched my mother suffer. She endured painful tests & surgeries over 11 years. Both my mother & I are/were only children. So we were very close. And there is no one with whom I can reminisce or share my memories of her. Ten years after my mother’s death I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Part of me wished my mother were alive. And there was part of me that was glad she didn’t have to worry about me or watch me go through my cancer journey.


    • Thank you for your comment, Celeste and I’m sorry to read of your loss, pain and heartache. I was 11 years old when Mam died. It’s not easy at any age. We’ll always miss our mothers. Hugs to you.


  9. Kelli Godek says:

    I had a psychology class once where I explained how I felt how the stages of grief were taught incorrectly. As if there’s an end to the cycle.
    It will be 29 years this year for me on Mother’s Day weekend. That holiday has always been bittersweet.
    In class I told of how I grieved at 15, and again at prom, at highschool graduation. How I anticipated grieving again when I got married and had children of my own. I was right, but the process just didn’t last as long.
    Therapy was an option, though it was frowned upon. I recall going with my older sister to our family doctor to get a referral for each of us. He told her only I needed it because she was old enough to deal with it on her own. Today, I can’t imagine what her pain was like to hear that. I know through my own tears I shouted at him, how dare a person hurt my sister like that.
    Now I live my life in a way I know she’d be proud of. I miss her terribly and wish she had the physical strength to have faught the cancer just one more time. So selfish of me. She knew before I did that I was a strong enough woman to finish my life without her.
    Thank you Mom for putting so much trust in me! Love and miss you everyday!!


  10. Michelle says:

    Unlike many of you, I lost my mother very suddenly in a car accident when I was 8. I did not have the opportunity to say goodbye but then again, I did not have to watch her suffer either. Which is worse? I wouldn’t dare compare. Either way, our moms are gone! It will be 48 years on Aug 1st 2018! It is very hard to believe!
    Unfortunately, that day marked the beginning of a very dark and desolate road for me. It has taken a lot of hard work to rise above the pain. Today, I can say that I am grateful for the few years we had together. I talk to her every day and I know that she walks beside me. I too found some solace when I visited with a medium who was able to convey some messages from my mother. It just confirmed to me that I was not abandoned by her in death. She has placed key people along my life’s journey who would prove to be instrumental in helping me cope.
    The pain of losing her will never go away but at least now it is not preventing me from living a meaningful life. Hugs to all of you!


  11. Pingback: What Not to Do When Someone You Know Has Lost Their Mother | Alovelywoman

  12. Pingback: The Depression Forums

  13. Pingback: Connecting Through Grief | Alovelywoman

  14. Pingback: 15 Ways to Honor Your Deceased Mother on Your Wedding Day | Alovelywoman

  15. Pingback: Sit for a While in the Darkness | Alovelywoman

  16. Pingback: Comfort For the Broken In Spirit

  17. Pingback: When Anniversaries Are Sad | Alovelywoman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s