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Mother Loss and Age of Emotional Development: The 40’s – Loneliness, Regret, Loss of Identity

By: Mary Ellen Collins

Women who have experienced mother loss in the 40’s have often expressed emotions connected to the following statements:

  • “I feel all alone.”
  • “Who will call me their daughter?”
  • “How will I know what to do next?”
  • “How did my mother make that recipe?”
  • “What is my family history?”
  • “What are the family secrets I don’t know?”

We have covered mother loss for many ages. Please go back and refresh yourself with the previous blogs.

Age of Loss and Stage of Emotional Development:

Let’s move forward to the 40’s. What is a 40’s woman’s life like? This is middle adulthood. During middle adulthood, we establish our careers, settle down within a relationship, begin our own families and develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture. We give back to society through raising our children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and organizations.

The 40’s woman’s challenges are much like the 30’s, but accelerated.  Everything is magnified. The demands on her work, home, career and family s-u-c-k every ounce of energy from her.  She usually has put others ahead of her needs.

She has spent so much of her waking hours on these demands she has hardly had time to create true relationships. Her mother relationship may be the only one she has had time for. This may be the first time the 40’s woman looks at her mother and sees her as a friend or a peer.

She may have adolescents or even adult children. She really needs guidance and advice. This is one of the roles among others her mother may have held in the daughter’s life – counselor, advisor, along with grandmother, cheerleader, and as always the mother.  Mother may be the only source of nurturing and feminine support that the 40’s woman has. Mother is also the one who has the family history. She knows the secrets. One woman shared,“There is so much I want to know but I didn’t ask before and now she is gone.” 

 When a 40’s woman experiences mother loss, the demands on her life leave her no time to grieve.  When she loses her mother she feels alone.  Although, she may feel very alone, she must be the rock for those around her.  There is no one there to support her. So she stuffs her feelings only to have them come back to haunt her later. 

Psychologists tell us this is the most common decade to experience loss.  Most women will lose their mother in the 40’s.  Compounding the grief from mother loss are those darn hormones! The 40’s woman begins to experience the erratic emotional swings and hormone imbalance that occur during peri-menopause.

Menopause is not only the physical changes in our bodies but it is also a time of deep internal reflection. What we have not “dealt” with (grieved) we get to do again but with a vengeance. There is an old saying about grief, “Pay now or pay later.” You don’t just get over it,  you must go through it.  That is the only way.

Grieving the loss is important to manage this stage. Don’t stuff it. Pay attention to what you need and go out and find it. The Motherless Daughters Ministry is here to support you.  — You are not alone. 



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