10 Things Nobody Tells You About Losing Your Mother

After my mother’s sudden passing two years ago on this date, I’ve haphazardly stumbled my way through the grieving process, having spent much of the past two years adrift in the wreckage of unfathomable heartache and a sea of designer shopping bags. But despite the mood-boosting qualities of impulse purchases, my new wardrobe additions have failed to piece back together the shards of my own shattered identity. As I’ve struggled to find meaning in a world that seems predictably unpredictable and utterly cruel at times, I’ve come to the conclusion that what has emerged is the stark reality of ineffable loss and the endowment of a profound wisdom understood too early. Acutely aware that the 2nd anniversary of her death has been quickly approaching, I’ve spent countless hours reflecting on all I’ve ascertained about life and my mother’s premature death and today I’m sharing ten internal revelations nobody ever tells you about losing your mother. 

  1. Her passing will become a defining moment in your life.  You will start to organize the memories of your life into two very distinct repositories of experience as if plotted chronologically on a timeline – when your mother was alive and after her death. In fact, as the calendar pages flutter in the breeze, a decreasing segment of my closet is now mom-approved.
  2. You will search for ways to make full the void before realizing that such a gaping injury to your heart is ultimately irreparable. Even the Bergdorf’s after-Christmas sale will fail to rehabilitate your aching spirit as you struggle to adjust to a life that feels forever incomplete.
  3. Life is now fractured through a prism, dampening light as never before. That fierce pair of Louboutin boots at Barney’s you were eyeing suddenly just seem like a superfluous irrelevance. You will make that purchase another day.  
  4. The person you were before she died is forever altered by this cataclysmic event; you will morph into a more vulnerable iteration of yourself, emerging with a deeper appreciation of life and enhanced compassion for others. This reservoir of tenderness for others will translate into a deeper empathy for others and you are poised to become a better mother, spouse, friend and neighbor.
  5. You will emerge inherently mindful of life’s complexity, and forever feel more grown-up. When my mother, keeper of my childhood memories, passed away, I was recklessly catapulted over an invisible barrier to a requisite maturity.  I was just 35 at the time. Although a mother myself, the child in me was inextricably tethered to my mother. In her absence, I often find myself foraging for her spot-on guidance, wisdom and unfiltered critiques of my wardrobe choices I so desperately still need. 
  6. You will begin to contemplate the transient nature of all living things and develop a vivid, visceral knowledge of your own fleeting mortality.  You will examine and parse out what critically matters and re-formulate your core values. You will become less willing to put up with people who waste your time. And you will learn how to draw hard lines, unapologetically say no, and engage in guilt-free pampering sessions.
  7. Sadness will wash over you at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. Discrete circumstances can cause you to sense your mother’s absence more acutely, such as when your child reaches a new milestone or you stumble upon a pair of Manolo’s at Off Fifth and experience the dire urge to share it with her.  During such vulnerable moments, the wound is re-opened and triggers what may best be described as “mommy-missing feelings.” 
  8. You will find solace in doing the things she loved doing. My mother was an excellent cook. After she passed away I discovered her hand-written recipes tucked in a drawer, a proverbial cheat sheet to create her signature delicacies. With this revelation I’ve since been able to celebrate her life by cooking the recipes so sweetly reminiscent of my childhood. As the aromas that I so deeply miss waft through my kitchen, I’m comforted by my mother’s presence. 
  9. You will come to understand that it’s not solely the relationship you had with your mother that you grieve, but also the relationship you could be having now.  In motherhood, when the ambiance may fluctuate between peace and pandemonium instantaneously, my mother was my pillar of strength. I long for the powerfully soothing tone of her voice assuring me that I’m not alone in the world. 
  10. You will learn that love is more potent than death. My relationship with my mother is one which transcends the limitations of the physical realm. It will endure in perpetuity. Her essence impacts virtually every decision I make and the principals and morality she so deeply ingrained in me escort me through each new challenge I now face without her. I detect glimpses of her whenever I peer into the mirror. And by living my life in a manner I know would make her most proud, she will continue to live on through me always.

5 thoughts on “10 Things Nobody Tells You About Losing Your Mother

  1. Melissa, those are mighty powerful words, and such a beautiful legacy that your mother left for you to follow in her footsteps. Janet was definitely a true “Woman of Valor” in every sense of the word. She could do it ALL and she did do it ALL. I think of her so often and every time I see you post pictures of your children I know how happy she would be to see them today. She left us too soon but I am sure she accomplished all she needed to and when her job was done, she knew she could rest. I know these anniversaries are tough and days like today are hard. Just remember all the things she taught you and how you’ve come through . You are an amazing woman with much to be proud of. My thoughts are with you. ❤️

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  2. “Her essence impacts vittually every decision I make…”. This sentence made me stop and really absorb its magnificence… and that if this entire piece. Thank you for sharing this. Absolutely beautiful, my friend.

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  3. Amidst your amazingly eloquent commentary, I find myself laughing and crying at the same time. And it takes a LOT to make me cry. You are truly incredible. Can’t believe it’s already been 2 years. xo

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  4. This has just about broken me, it’s scarily accurate. It’s been 8 months for me, I too was 35 when my Mum passed. I am also a mum, I am struggling. This post makes me feel normal. Thank you x

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  5. I will be saving this beautiful expression of your mother, which is also so relevant to the loss of my own Mom, yesterday. Actually it has been 12 years, but feels like yesterday.. Also linking it to friends and family..

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