Living without Mum

Fiona's Story: grief is simply love with no place to go

I thought about Mum all the time during that first year with my baby, wishing she could be there to guide me on this new motherhood journey. It made my heart ache so much picturing her as a grandmother and knowing how much she would have loved my baby girl.

Portrait of a Motherless Daughter
I lost my beautiful Mum to stomach cancer when I was 20. She was diagnosed a year earlier so we knew for some time that it was coming, but nevertheless her passing sent me into shock. I was in constant disbelief that I found myself stuck in this never-ending nightmare. She was my everything, my safe place, my home. What are you meant to do when your home is suddenly gone?

I remember I was awake at dawn on the day after she passed. I remember thinking how wrong it was for the sun to rise – unscathed, as if nothing had happened, as if my whole world didn’t just plummet into darkness. Even now, I despise sunrises with a passion.

After the funeral, we had to return to our ‘normal’ lives. The only thing that motivated me to keep going was the thought that ‘Mum would have wanted you to live a full life – do it for her’.

Over the next decade or so, that sharp pain slowly faded. I still missed her and thought about her at every birthday, every holiday, every Mother’s Day, every milestone… but somehow I got used to her not being there in person. In the back of my mind, I thought I had ‘dealt with’ my grief.

Then I became a mother myself and the grief hit me like a ton of bricks. It resurfaced so unexpectedly that it completely caught me off guard. When my husband went back to work a few weeks after childbirth, I was left alone in the house with my baby and I was petrified. Suddenly I was missing Mum so much, I wished I could call and ask her to come over to keep me company. I had so many questions for her – ‘Is it meant to be this hard? Why am I so anxious and scared? How the heck did you cope when you had me?’ I wanted to know about myself as a baby – ‘What was I like when I was a baby? How did you comfort me when I cried? When did I start sleeping through the night?’

I thought about Mum all the time during that first year with my baby, wishing she could be there to guide me on this new motherhood journey. It made my heart ache so much picturing her as a grandmother and knowing how much she would have loved my baby girl.

With each baby milestone, things got easier and I started thinking about Mum in a different light. I realised that even though she couldn’t be with me in person, Mum will always be a part of me and my life. Her essence, her spirit and mother heart are always with me and within me. She had already taught me everything I needed to know about being a mother – with the unwavering strength, courage, integrity and selflessness that I have witnessed throughout her life. I feel blessed and grateful for her love and for our memories together, because now I can pass that love onto my daughter. My daughter will grow up knowing Grandma, through the stories I will tell her and through my love.

I recently heard this saying – grief is simply love with no place to go. I have come to terms with the fact that my grief will always be with me because my love for Mum will always be there.

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Viviens story: remembering the past with a nod to the future.

Losing my mother to breast cancer when she was only 47 years old was devastating and distressing to me as I, myself was just 24 years old at that time. It left my family confused, lost and heartbroken.

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Ava's story: grief and milestones

My grief has changed over the years, at first I felt numb, then came the unbearable pain. That raw pain eases with time, but the ache in my heart remains. Sometimes, my grief can still knock the wind out of me and I allow myself to cry and remember her.

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When Mum was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer (primary bowel cancer) my world turned upside down. Seeing mum so sick was one of the hardest parts. Not being able to help her made me feel helpless.

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OUR MISSION

TO HELP WOMEN NAVIGATE LIFE’S JOURNEY WITHOUT MUM.

Motherless Daughters Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners and custodians of the land, sea and nations and pay our respects to elders, past and present.
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