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.
At the age of 15, I lost my mum in October of 2019 after a short battle with cancer. No one told me how hard life without my mother was going to be, until I was in the midst of it. The grief hit me in the weeks after her passing.
I cried myself to sleep most nights and then 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”. I slipped into a deep depression and really struggled with coming to terms that I was never going to see Mum again. Now three years on, I still experience the same sadness and guilt I did in the weeks and months after she passed. I get asked many times what is grief like? What to say to someone who is grieving? How do I cope?
Grief. Grief is like walking into a glass door, you don’t see it until it hits you. Grief is so unpredictable; it comes over you when you least expect it. But you just have to ride those waves, let your body feel whatever it needs to feel in that moment. I have had many sleepless nights, my brain ticking over the last moments I had with mum, her last weeks, days, hours on earth with me. I think about all the milestones she wasn’t here for - my 18th birthday or my high school graduation, and all the milestones she will never get to see.
One of the biggest mistakes someone can make is saying that you understand the pain we are in and what we are going through. Unless you have lost a parent, you can’t empathise with us, but you can sympathise. Being there for someone who is grieving is hard, but letting them know that you are there and you will stand by their side through the process is important. Someone who is grieving just needs someone to listen, let them know it's ok to cry. I have certainly felt so alone in my grief journey but being able to share my journey through writing has helped me process things a little bit better. And by sharing my story with the world, I hope that I can help others not feel so alone through their grief journey.
As I grow with my grief, I am learning that grief is always going to be a big part of my life, regardless of if it’s accepted or not. We need to stand beside each other, supporting one another through the hardest times of our lives. At some stage, everyone is going to experience grief, they will experience the hardships and the pain that comes along with it. If Motherless Daughters Australia (MDA) has taught me anything, it’s that I am not alone. I have a non-blood family backing me regardless.
Now as an 18 year old, I had to navigate finishing high school, growing up and moving without Mum by my side. I am still trying to navigate relationships, life changes, and I also know there is much more ahead of me I’ll have to navigate without her support. I am currently navigating a move to a different state and my dad being in a new relationship, all while still missing my mum so much. It has been quite hard seeing him with another woman who isn't my mum. Dad’s girlfriend has become a big part of my life now, and learning to accept it and not see it as her replacing mum has taken some time. I am learning to love her and her sons as my own family; a bonus family I can turn to when I need help. At times I have felt guilty for wanting to move on, but I have to remember that mum would want me to open my heart and my home, to be happy.
When MDA came into my life, I was super lost and ready to give up. They connected me with thousands of other women who love and support one another through the hardest and the best times of our life -sharing experiences we wish we could talk to our mums about. An example of just how supportive this community really is, particularly in the lead up to Mother’s Day, is the generosity of other members and how they have really looked out for me and loved me. MDA is currently partnered with Francesca and they have a Motherless Daughters Awareness Bracelet. A member of the MDA community has purchased one for me and it will be arriving soon. The bracelets have been a way for our community to band together and have something that unites us all and to have an older woman buy one for me is so kind and comforting.
Not only has MDA provided me with a community, validation, love and support, but it has actually saved my life.
Morgan's Story: I lost my mother, father, and two sisters, when I was 9 months old
I’ve censored myself for most of my life, avoiding mentioning that I’ve grown up without most members of my biological family, all but erasing them from my narrative in order to appease the feelings of others.
In December 2021 it will be two years since Mum passed away. I have spent these past two years getting to know myself on a whole new level. I have learned to sit with those uncomfortable feelings until they pass.
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.