Community Story

Maddie's story: you don't get over grief

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.

Portrait of a Motherless Daughter
Hi My name is Maddie and I am 16 years old. I became a motherless daughter on the 19th October 2019 when mum sadly passed away to cancer. Mum was such a loving, caring person who always put others before herself. Mum was a primary school teacher and had a passion for performing arts. She loved seeing the kids achieve all they have worked for on the stage!

Mum was also a single mother every couple of years. Dad’s job requires him to move interstate a lot. She juggled taking care of my younger brother and I, working part time as well as running a functional household. I looked up to mum as a role model but most of all she was my best friend. Mum stood by me through every decision making, medical appointment and appreciated all I did to help her.

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. I went into survival mode where I cooked the family meal each night, did the washing, clean the house and made sure that Mum took her meds on time and that she had everything she needed, as well as attending full time at school. As mum was going into a decline, I pushed away the thoughts about what it would be like when she were to go. I couldn't imagine life without her. She had been my stability in the instability and she was the one person who understood me and my needs.

I remember getting the phone call to say that we need to get back to the hospital, that she was showing the signs of her last hours, minutes. Arriving at the hospital my head was in a whirlwind. I didn’t want this day to ever happen, let alone the day to be that day of all days. Dad gave my younger brother and I a choice to go in and say our last goodbyes. I said yes. I wanted the chance to give her a kiss that she would feel and then hear the “I love you” one last time. My mum’s side of the family refused to let me into the room. The next minute she was gone. My mum was gone. I felt emptiness inside of me.

After getting through her wake and spreading her ashes along the Ocean Grove back beach, the grief hit me. I cried myself to sleep most nights and the anger hit. I was angry at the world for taking my mum, I was angry at Mum’s side of the family for not letting me say my last goodbyes. Every child should be given the opportunity to say goodbye to their mum. I now regret my last words to her, "I will be back soon, mummy".

As the months went on, I would sit by the front door hoping she would walk through the door, I picked up my phone thinking there would be a message from her, but there never is. I would deny that mum was gone and that she would come back, but then I remember that she is gone. I would sit in my room thinking about the day I graduated from school, the day I get my first boyfriend, the day I have my first breakup, the day I get married, the day I have my first child. There is so much that has been taken away from me already, why did the universe have to take away my mum. Sometimes I think that the universe is punishing me.

I slipped into a deep depression and struggled to get through the day. At the same time I was having a lot of physical medical issues going on that did not help the situation. My mental health continued to decline. I thought life was not worth living anymore and I wanted all the physical and mental pain to stop.

After realising how sick I had become, I started doing things for me. I started taking time out for myself and doing the things I love. My journey with grief has not been easy and I have moments where I stop and think about Mum all the time. I cry when I need to cry, I smile when I need to smile and I need to remember that Mum is always with me.

Grief isn’t something you get over, it's something you learn to live with.

A favourite quote of mine is: “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory” - Dr Seuss


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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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