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A Daughter’s Grief After the Death of Her Mother

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

The Unique Mother-Daughter Relationship, & What It Means to Lose It:

Old women sitting in a chair

Most people don’t understand the sense of loss that a daughter feels after the death of her mother. The relationship between a mother and daughter is unique.

In August of 2021, my mom and I became roommates. What a beautiful gift to have the time with her before she left this world.

My mom had early onset Alzheimer’s, so it could be very difficult to deal with her. She could at turns be very loving, demanding, angry, and she embodied a sense of humour she never had before.

Her caregivers found her humorous and a joy to care for.

I let her eat and drink whatever her heart desired. Her favourites were chocolate cake, ice cream, coffee, and rye on the rocks. I joined her in the consumption of ice cream. It was my comfort food at the end of a long day.

My mom found it hard to not have the ability to take care of herself. I tried my best to give her simple jobs so she could feel productive. My go-to was to get her to fold laundry; I will admit a few times I unfolded things just so she could fold them again.

During this time, my mom and I had spontaneous conversations about her life. I heard stories I had never heard before and confessions never spoken out loud.

I laugh to think of how the support worker, and I bathed mom as she became unstable on her feet. To keep her stable, I would put on my bathing suit and climb into the tub with her, and she would hug me as she was bathed. We all laughed and giggled through the process.

She adopted this habit of wrinkling her nose and smiling at me with such love. It was her way to say, “I love you.” It brings tears to my eyes to see this in my mind's eye.

The morning before my mom died, I climbed into bed with her and felt such love and peace. I spent time washing these feelings over her body with my hand as I lay beside her. When she took her last breath, I was there. I turned off the lights and put on some soft music while she transitioned to the other side.

I made sure she was dressed in her comfy Pj’s my daughter and I bought her, and a fluffy pink jacket that she loved. I also put her “care bear” in the cremation casket.

After my mother passed, I felt that I should call her friends. I had her address book, but no idea who her close friends were. I spent days calling everyone; the stories I heard were exactly what I needed. I discovered my mother was a caring, empathetic, and giving person to patients and friends. Not how I would describe her, but it was nice to know she was that way with others, that she has touched so many lives with this caring nature I knew little about.

The day after she died, I broke down and cried. In that moment, I could feel her presence. It was like she had put her hands on my shoulders and I love that I continue to feel her presence. I kept a small amount of her cremated remains in a metal box I made. My intention was to scatter a bit of her throughout my travels, but I haven’t been able to. She remains with me.

I never knew what it would feel like to not have my mom in my life. We didn’t always have a good relationship, but after my separation we became much closer.

I often wish I could call her and tell her about my adventures and the challenges of travelling as a single woman. I do know she is with me in some way, but it just isn’t the same.

I have several girlfriends who lost their mothers recently, and we have expressed how we never expected it to affect us the way it has. The relationship between a mother and daughter is unique, and hard to explain unless you have experienced it:

  • This is the person that brought us into the world and now is no longer here to witness our lives.

  • This is the person we counted on, even if she wasn’t perfect.

  • This is the person who hosted family functions, was the glue of the family.

  • This is the person who made sure all her children knew what the others were doing.

  • This is the person who held the memories of the past generations.

  • She is the one person who kept trying, even if she didn’t do it right all the time.

How do we not miss this person when they are gone? My mom’s absence has affected me more than I could ever imagine, and I think of her often. It is hard to put into words.

Most people don’t understand the sense of loss or grief that a daughter feels after the death of her mother. We often hear she lived a good long life and is in a better place. BUT she is not here for the milestones that continue to happen.

I am going to be a grandmother. When I heard the news, the first thought I had was that my mother will not be here to hold her great-granddaughter. Still, I plan to keep my mother alive for this little girl.

We will dance as my mother loved to dance

We will cook together

and I will read to her

My mother, Barbara, will be present—even if we can’t see her.

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