Dear Barb—Losing Mother

Dear Barb:

I have been trying to work through this on my own, but I think I need some advice.  I am in my early forties and have a great husband and two teenage kids.  I have been fortunate in my life, as my husband and I have been able to work through difficult times and stay together.  Also, my teenagers are doing well in school and haven’t gotten into any trouble.  However, my mother recently died (six months ago) after suffering for 2 years from breast cancer.  At the time I felt overwhelmed with caring for her, as I am an only child and my dad died 5 years earlier, but the grief I am feeling now is something I can’t seem to make peace with. 

My mom was my best friend and my life feels so empty without her.  It was difficult losing my dad, but nowhere near the grief I am experiencing now.  I don’t know if this is normal or if it is just me.  I don’t know where to turn and my entire life has been impacted.  My children and husband seem to think I should just get over it.  I can’t!  Do you have any advice for me?   so much, Diane. 

Hello Diane:

So sorry for your loss.  The death of a mother is one of the most traumatic experiences of your life, no matter if you had a good relationship with her or a difficult one.  You end up grieving the bond you had or the bond you never had.  Typical feelings of grief include sadness, anger, numbness, and shock, not so typical feelings include digestive problems, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.  Complex grief is grief that significantly impacts your daily life and goes on beyond one year.  Some of the signs of prolonged grief include a lack of feelings or emotions, having a tough time moving on with your life, and feeling that your life is meaningless.  A suicidal tendency could also be a part of complex grief.  Since you said in your email that your mother passed away six months ago, it does not appear that you are experiencing complex grief, but rather the normal process of grieving someone you love.  According to Liz Schmitz-Binnall a counselor for the LMHCA, PsyD grieving takes time.  You need to take the time to grieve and allow yourself to experience intense feelings during the first few months.  These feelings will lessen over time.  If you still feel the same intensity of loss after one year, then you may need to seek help from a counselor or a support group.  Another option for support is the Facebook Group called the Motherless Daughters Community.

Thank you for your email, Diane, you are at a place where most of us will find ourselves one day.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.