I’m the motherless daughter of a motherless daughter. My mother died when I was 8, her mother (my grandmother) died when my mother was 3 of unrelated causes. At 73 years old, I have the perspective of life experience. On this blog I want to affirm, encourage and embrace daughters who have lost or are losing their mothers to early death, abandonment, or dementia.
I'm also writing a book on the topic entitled Mom's Gone,Now What? I'd be delighted to interview you for this book if you have lost or are losing your mother. Please contact me.
A retired Life Coach and author of Ribbons of Love...affirmations for abundant living, I include an affirmation and coaching questions with each blog post to offer you assistance in moving forward with your life in a positive way.
A mother of three, step mother of three, grandmother of eight, step-grand of 11 and step-great grand of three, I have the opportunity to add whimsy to my posts.
I live on beautiful Marco Island, Florida, returning to the suburbs of Chicago in the summer to spend time with family. However, I'm a Nebraska Girl at heart, having grown up there and the off-spring of Nebraska pioneers.
I've been divorced, widowed and am currently married to my wonderful husband, Ken. Life has given me many opportunities for growth.
Welcome to my blog...feel free to interact with me, I will always respond to your questions or comments. My goal is to build community and relationships.
If we were to wake up and find ourselves in the middle of an endless summer with no obligations, no passions or interests to turn toward, no relationships to cling to—all of our commitments suddenly gone—I wonder if it would feel like freedom or like free fall. Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Magazine
As Joanna suggests, commitments don’t necessarily keep us from being free. Commitments can, in fact, be the very things that are holding us up, shaping our daily lives and futures.
Whether it’s doing the weekly laundry (like the young man in the photo), making dinner, babysitting a grandchild, or writing a book, commitments are a positive influence. People languish when they have no purpose; commitments—those projects and people to whom we are dedicated—give us purpose and help us flourish.
Affirmation: I value my commitments.
Coaching questions: What are you committed to? How do you feel about your commitments?
You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to YOU. Josh Shipp, youth motivational speaker
Of course, the natural and appropriate response to loss is sadness and grief. However, it’s been my experience that when the focus remains on the one you lost, there is less despair and depression than when the focus remains on yourself. When we get stuck in saying or thinking, “Why me? It’s not fair. How can I possibly cope?” we stymie our ability to move forward. So much depends on how we respond to our experience.
The motherless daughters I interviewed for my book who moved forward with their lives, frequently talked about all their mothers gave them, even if their time with them was short, rather than all they lost because of her death. Both conversations are appropriate but focusing on the former seemed to lead to more joy.
By her death, my mother gave me a greater sense of independence, the heart-felt reality that death is a part of life, and the ability to be more empathetic to those who experience loss.
Affirmation: I choose to get better.
Coaching questions: What is your response to loss? Is it working for you? What will help you focus more on the lost loved one and less on yourself?
What Julia Ward Howe had in mind in 1870 when she invented Mother’ s Day was a day on which we oppose war and advance peace. In other words, it wasn’t Mother’s Day, but a Mothering Day. Gloria Steinem, American journalist
When we think of Mother’ Day we think of honoring a person who brought a child into the world—a mother. If we take Steinem’s lead and consider mother as a verb, we come up with a completely different take on the day.
Mothering can be done by male or female, old or young, birth parent, adoptive parent, or friend. When you mother someone, you show them empathy, love, and thoughtfulness. You care greatly about their welfare. Mothering is love freely given. One can become a mother by happen-stance but one mothers from a sense of purpose and love.
Affirmation: I will consider what it is to mother.
Coaching questions: Who has mothered you? Who do you mother?
The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity. Erich Fromm, German social psychologist
One of the dubious benefits of losing a mother at eight-years-old was that I became a planner. Not just a what’s-for-dinner planner but a what-if-there’s-another-Great Depression planner. When I had children living at home, my “Next Great Depression” plan was to dig up the backyard (a half acre) and plant a BIG garden—like big enough to keep us in food from season to season. I also learned how to bake bread and sew clothing.
Mathematician John Allen Paulos said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” Learning how to live with the knowledge that something catastrophic can happen was one of my greatest lessons. It has served me well for over sixty-seven years.
Affirmation: I will learn how to live with insecurity.
Coaching questions: What did you learn from your loss experience? What’s a step you’ll take to learn how to deal with insecurity?
You’re probably not looking forward to Mother’s Day this year—or any year. I’ve been motherless since I was eight and I still don’t look forward to Mother’s Day. Even when my children were young and celebrated me with handmade cards and burnt toast, I still felt sad that I wasn’t able to personally celebrate with my mom.
When I was a kid, my dad and I planted window boxes for my mother on Mother’s Day. The colorful boxes sat under the two windows at the front of our modest, post-war bungalow in Nebraska. Flowers have always reminded me of my mother—from the pink carnations on her casket to the bachelor buttons and multi-colored zinnias she planted in our backyard.
I’ve had sixty-seven Mother’s Days to learn how to survive the day in the healthiest way possible. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
* Plan ahead for how you’ll spend the day. Pre-COVID, my husband and I took a local lunch cruise on Mother’s Day (I live on Marco Island, Florida). Balmy weather, beautiful scenery, the movement of the boat, and someone besides me preparing lunch, all made for a lovely day and took my mind off the sadness.
* Do something to honor your mother. In my gardening days, I frequently planted a rose bush or other long-lasting, flowering plant. Today, I buy “us” a big bouquet of pink carnations or other cut flowers.
* Acknowledge your sad feelings. If you’re new to loss, use Mother’s Day as a time to tell your mother-story to a trusted friend or share your sad feelings with someone you love. If this isn’t possible, journal about your feelings. Be honest when someone asks, “How are you?”
* Stay away from triggers. It’s hard to avoid the hype for Mother’s Day—ads for gifts, card displays, social media posts of happy mothers and daughters. Don’t fixate on them. Move along. You can be glad for those who are celebrating without immersing yourself in situations that tap into sadness or anger.
* Celebrate the mothers in your family. My children send me Mother’s Day cards and I, in turn, send cards to my daughters, step-daughters, and daughter-in-law. Even if it’s a difficult day for me, I’m thankful they did not grow up motherless. My mother also grew up without a mother (her’s died when she was three), so I’m particularly grateful to have broken the cycle with my children.
* Stop anticipating disaster. Sometimes the anticipation of Mother’s Day is worse than the actual day. That’s how COVID-Christmas was for me last year. Anticipating the holiday away from family was terrible; the actual day—not so bad. The lesson? Tell yourself it’s just another day—one day out of 365. Don’t succumb to the “ain’t it awful” syndrome.
If you’re a mother, Happy Mother’s Day! If you’re not, Happy Sunday!
Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing—the absence of well-being. Adam Grant, writer
After more than a year of putting our lives on hold, have we forgotten how to take action on what we want? Have we gotten so comfortable with having a mediocre life devoid of the social, intellectual, and cultural stimulation we once had that stepping back into an active life feels like too much of an effort?
In his op-ed piece for the New York Times, Adam Grant goes on to remind us that languishing dulls our motivation, disrupts our ability to focus, and triples the odds that we’ll cut back on work.
Affirmation: I will take the action necessary to create the life I love.
Coaching questions: Are you languishing? If you are, what’s one step you’ll take today to take action and dare to do what you love?
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken. Leo Tolstoy, author
Happy Earth Day 2021! Teaching love and respect for Mother Earth needs to happen year round and begin at a young age. Teach children to not be wasteful, recycle, respect the nature around them—leave nothing behind but footprints.
Looking for some creative ways to start engaging with your little ones about the environment and civic engagement this Earth Day?
1. As children are starting to learn color identification, take them outside and have them identify different plants and animals of all colors of the rainbow. 2. Educate children about the cycles of life by hatching butterflies, watching tadpoles turn into frogs, or simply owning a pet of any type. 3. Collect fallen leaves and identify types of trees. Create art with the leaves to help the children learn the varied beauty of their colors, shapes, and sizes. 4. Help children enjoy stillness as they listen for the sounds of nature. 5. Plant a garden with your little one.
Affirmation: I will link the young people in my life to nature.
Coaching questions: How do you connect with nature? What does this connection mean to you? How important is it to share this connection with the youngsters in your life? What difference might it make to the future of our planet?
We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives—experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author
What experience has pounded, broken, rescued, illuminated, or humbled you? My top three are early mother loss (age 8), divorce , death of a spouse. With perspective, I can finally recognize that, in addition to pounded, beaten, and broken, these experiences have also rescued, illuminated, rewarded, and humbled me.
I am who I am today because of my past experiences—positive and negative; loss and jubilation. I’ve become more resilient, empathetic, loving, understanding, faith-filled because of my losses. My experiences of jubilation have taught me to be grateful.
Affirmation: I embrace all the experiences of my life.
Coaching questions: Again, what experience has pounded, broken, rescued, illuminated, humbled you? What did these experiences teach you?
My mother memories that are closest to my heart are the small gentle ones that I have carried over from the days of my childhood. They are not profound, but they have stayed with me through life, and when I am very old, they will still be near. Margaret Sanger, American nurse and activist
I did an interview today with Christine Friberg, the founder and director of She Climbs Mountains (www.sheclimbsmountains.org), an organization serving women and girls who have experienced mother loss through death at any age.
Christine asked me why I chose Tell Your Story as Step One in my book Mom’s Gone, Now What? Ten Steps to Help Daughters Move Forward After Mother Loss. Her organization shares my belief in the importance of story telling.
To answer her question, I quoted from my book, “The willingness to share our story signals a desire to leave a legacy and to turn pain into a message of hope for others.” When we hide our stories out of shame, guilt, or just plain shyness, we deny ourselves and others an opportunity to be our best selves.
Affirmation: I’m willing to share my story.
Coaching questions (from Mom’s Gone, Now What?): If you’ve never shared your full story or haven’t shared it in many years, with whom might you confide? What difference do you think sharing your story will make in your life and the life of the person with whom you’re sharing?
Remembering my mom and I having fun on vacation in Wyoming. Circa 1951.
Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form. Andre Maurois, French author
Of course aging is real—more than “a bad habit” as Maurois claims. Some people age more quickly than others; disease sets in; injuries happen that speed up the aging process or keep someone from doing all they wish to do.
On the other hand, when we’re busy doing what we love, making a difference, setting goals, we’re less likely to notice or care about our age. I’ve been reading about Grandma Moses, the famous painter who got her start in her late 70’s. She’s an inspiration as are the people listed below.
— Julia Hawkins, 103, oldest woman to compete on an American track – started running at 100.
— Nola Ochs, 95, recently earned her bachelor’s degree then went on to earn her master’s at 96 – moved into the campus dorms.
—Sister Madonna Bruder has completed over 45 Ironman competitions and continues to compete at 86.
—Harley Davidson rider, Gloria Tramonten Struck, 90, intends to embark on a cross country ride at 100.
—Oldest newly weds are George (103) and Darren (91) Kirby.
It’s not all about “doing,” it’s also about becoming and contributing.
Affirmation: I’m inspired by those who don’t let their age make a difference.
Coaching questions: What does age mean to you? How do you feel about growing older? What do you want to accomplish in the next few years?