When Your Mother Dies

How do any of us cope with the death of our mother? It doesn’t matter if our mother lives to a great age, the pain of losing her seems too much to bear. It’s often said when people live a long life that they “have had a good innings”. Having a good innings takes nothing away from the pain of grief, or from the shock of grief.

When we lose a parent we lose part of ourselves, we lose our childhood, and our youth is behind us forever. This is a Grief in itself. The death of a parent shakes the very foundation of our lives. It is natural to feel raw and vulnerable, alone, out of control. The most important woman in a female’s life is her mother. Her presence effects us our entire life, and she can’t be replaced by anyone. When we lose our mother it’s devastating. What we have to do is acknowledge the importance and power of this event. It’s not the time to resist the powerful forces activated in such grief, no one is ever too old to grieve, and no one is ever too old to learn strategies for moving through grief.

One strategy that works for me is making a special time for grief. A special time each day to honour this grief. Choose a quiet place, perhaps your bedroom, a corner of your backyard, a protected place where you can open fully to your grief in solitude. This makes you set up the habit of grieving for a set period each day, you find a rhythm of entering the grief, then letting it go and attending to daily tasks.

It’s only too common for unresolved feelings toward your mother to bubble up after her death. Clarify the expectations you had of her, those expectations she could never fulfill. You begin to see the relationship for what it was rather than what you wanted it to be, you can grieve for what your mother didn’t give you and begin to appreciate what she did give you. The first grieving period is an important time to heal these old wounds and begin to say good-bye.

Each year I acknowledge the anniversary of my own mother’s death. I sit quietly in my garden and remember my childhood, I reflect on her life and I often speak to her as if she were beside me. I have apologised for the pain I caused her, something I couldn’t bring myself to do when she was alive.

Be gentle with yourself, as this is a vulnerable time in which you feel depressed or emotional. But changes will come to your life as you move out of the dark middle phase of grief. When you feel ready, act on new ideas, inspirations and insights.

Life’s too short! Of course it is. The death of a parent can be a spur to reviewing our priorities and values.