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. 



22 replies on “Mother Loss and Age of Emotional Development: The 40’s – Loneliness, Regret, Loss of Identity”

I lost my sweet mom in 2015 I was 38. Then I lost my sweet dad 10 months to the date of my mom. Im 41 now. I feel lost, empty. My boys are 23 and 18th. Wish they were more understanding. My husband there dad through the years has had his own problems. What hurts I’ve been the rock for them all. Now I need them and there not strong to help me. The ones who loved me unconditionally are gone! I ask for signs. Sorry I need to find a group something. Idk. Thank you for your blog!! Jennifer

Oh Jennifer, it sounds like you are right there in the spot where you absolutely need other women in your life. From what you have said, you have always been the strong center for everyone. The problem is when we parent, it is not always reciprocal in the support that we get back. Your boys do not have the experience to know how to support you and they are at the point in their life where they are figuring out what they want to be. And your husband may not know how to do this either. You need other women who can be a safe place for you.

Where are you located? We are in the Cincinnati, OH area and offer many groups that are face-to-face. In 2018, we will begin online community groups and classes. Would that might be of interest to you? Just email me and let me know how we can best serve you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

My mom went to be with Jesus December 29, 2017. She had a heart attack in front of me. She was truly my best friend, my prayer warrior. I am really having a hard time. I know about death and I am thankful she is not here, for her sake, but I am hurting so bad. It comes in waves and I will cry, then be ok, have joy and even laugh usually, but this one started Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 and it is now Sunday the 28th. I am still a mess. I am asking for prayer. Thank you for this.

Prayers certainly. Know you are normal. That is what grief does, it comes in waves. When it hits you like it has, just stay with it. Don’t ignore it. It will just get bigger. You also have the grief that goes along with sudden loss. It is a double whammy. Sudden loss also leaves you grieving in bits and pieces. You will be OK then wham, you are not OK. You did not have time to begin the process of grieving. You absolutely need a support system. Don’t know what resources you have but know you can always turn to us. Get connected. You are not alone.

My mom passed May 30, 2018 after suffering for 4 months. She had a stroke and fell hitting her head on the hard tile which damaged her brain and caused her to have multiple seizures until she died. I’ve felt guilt for not doing more. Loneliness and confusion. I just want to get back to being me.

Kelly, I am so sorry for your loss. Guilt is part of the package of loss. We always play the “what if” and the “should ofs” game with ourself. We are absolutely powerless over death. You did not have control of her outcome. Can you name what you feel guilty about? Sometimes, just identifying the root of this can be freeing. Write about it if you journal. Talk to someone if you are more of a talker. Reach out to a grief counselor. Do not stay alone in your loss. Loss can be isolating but we understand. We get it. Reach out to the women of the Motherless Daughters Ministry. We are a click away.

This is so helpful and describes my life right now to a tea. I’m 44 with a one year old a 24 year old and a 16 ?. A business. A grieving father who is lost and doesn’t really go out and just depends on having company. My mum was my best friend Elwood lived me unconditionally and genuinely cared about my life. Now no one seems to I can’t get back to me a light has went out on me. I love my children to huts but so sad as m mum didn’t get to see her she died when I had just given birth . It was a risk having her and all turned out do well and I couldn’t wait to sit and chat with her about it all she was only 63 and lived life . How do you become you again and when I try I feel so guilty too.

Oh Michelle, Loss shapes us and leads us into a foreign land of Grief. A land where we do not know which path to take. You will never be the same you as you were before. You have to lay your guilt down and trudge ahead. One step at a time. Always know we are here to walk with you.

I don’t know how to do this. My mom is not technically dead, she’s brain dead and we are keeping her alive for her organs. But I’m torn as I can still touch and feel her warm but I’m told she’s not there. My son is only 9 and was there when she fell and partially blames himself, which is horrible and I don’t want him to harbor this guilt that shouldn’t be his. I’m trying to be a rock for everyone but I’m didn’t, in a sense. I need my mom for advice on what to do right now but she’s the one that I need the advice on. My heart is broken. But I promised her I’d be okay if anything ever happened to her. I’m just sad. Confused and feel helpless.

Oh Stacy, I am so sorry that you are losing your mom. Even though she is non-responsive, God lets our loved ones know more than what is visible to the eye. We have to walk by faith not by sight. This alone is overwhelming. Being a rock is never our strong suit, and I would venture not yours at this time either. Especially when we are so fragile. That is just an unreal expectation for yourself and for anyone else. This is the time to mourn together. Your son is at the age where he may think that he could have done something. As adults, we know that this is not true. However as a 9 year old, he is carrying the blame. Tell him over and over and over and over again that it is not his fault. I am right here if I can support you. Just reach out to me at Send me your contact information and I would be happy to set up a time with you to talk. You do not have to walk alone.

Hi Mary Ellen and all,

I wanted to thank you for this article. I’m a little different than any of the commenters in that I’m a guy/son/father who’s been dealing with my Mom’s passing for 2+ years.

I thank you for this because most guys don’t discuss these things, much less men well into middle age like myself.

I have a few other friends who have also experienced this loss, and one of them like me, talks about it openly and it’s good. The others tend to avoid the convo and pretend everything is fine.

My Mom was Incredible, I know everyone says that, but it’s true. She was an immigrant with an education who worked her way up to bank management. She did this during the 1970’s, when most office jobs were dominated by men.

Of all my friends growing up, she was the only one who had a career. She really was a trailblazer.

As a result of that, I came along later in her life, when she was almost 40. I suppose on the one hand, I am grateful to have been together for as long as we were as a family.

She got to help raise her grandkids and see them grow. But I suppose what I’ve learned is that no matter the age, being separated from the closest people to us is something that impacts the rest of your life.

I think it’s hard to transition from grief to gratitude, but it’s a journey I’m currently on.

I just want to send my appreciation and thoughts to everyone else on this thread. It’s a universal experience but that doesn’t make it easier.

Thank you and I hope you don’t mind a fella coming on here and sharing in the convo.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Doesn’t matter what gender you are, it is so hard to lose such an important person in your life. Grief can coexist with gratitude.

Thank you for posting. It will be five years this June my Mommy passed. I have gotten stronger but I find I have moments where it’s like the grief is starting all over again. I don’t really share with anyone because I don’t think they would understand. My Mother was (and is) my best friend and my spiritual/prayer partner. I’ve had my very happy moments and my reflective moments but then I get hit hard. I feel like I’m disappointing her. I know she does not want me to be sad but I can’t help it. I’m glad she’s with Jesus and is no longer in pain so I feel selfish for wanting to be able to hold and hug and listen to her again. I’m grateful to all who have prayed for me and encouraged me. However, other than Jesus, my Mother was the only one who understood me and was by my side (and I hers) as we travelled through a very difficult life. Thank you for your prayers and kind words

Chloe taht is exactly what grief does. It is cyclic not linear. And yes it does feel like it is starting all over again. But the waves will not overcome you. Being sad is part of being human.Why wouldn’t you be sad? You are not a disappointment.Jesus knows. You can always reach out to the Motherless Daughters Ministry. You are not alone. Prayers always.

I lost my mum over 11 months ago, I’m 44, she died suddenly from a build up in her system from pain killers she had been prescribed for nerve pain as she had been in pain for over a decade and it had gotten so bad she could barely walk in her last days.
She was 62 when she died.

She was such a supportive, firm but fair, kind pillar of my life who had been there for me before I was even born and now she’s gone. The hole left behind with her death can never be filled and I’m constantly told to ‘move on and get over it’ by so many who haven’t experienced such a loss to the point where I’m shunned, isolated, excluded, looked down on and treated like less than dirt for not putting on a happy face and pretending that everything is fine while they coddle a very abusive, manipulative person who had mentally abused me months before my mum died.

It’s bad enough feeling like I’m invisible with being in my 40s as it is but losing my mum, my best friend and support, feels like a sledge hammer to the chest. Since I don’t have children, I was born without the required parts so have to rely on estrogen HRT to keep me alive essentially, nor anyone in my life then I’m facing this very much alone.

I miss my mum, I need my mum, and this loneliness and isolation while struggling to recover from the mental abuse and grieving for my mum is taking it’s toll on me. Life is truly cruel and harsh.

I’m so sorry you’ve lost your mum. I can feel in your words the pain you’re going through. I know it feels like you are alone. But there are women throughout the world who feel this same pain. Sometimes those people who try to “help” us tell us to move on and get over it. They mean well.
But grief is a journey that is different for every individual who goes through it. It is a lifelong journey, and it is impossible to “get over” just because a certain number of days have passed. I am praying for you today. I am praying you’ll be surrounded by the feelings of love and support your mum gave you, and that you’ll find people around you who will listen, see you, and understand.

My mom is in hospice. She won’t/can’t let us spend time with her. I’m 44 and the youngest. I was always close to her, but I really starting to spend a lot more time with her. And now there is no thanking her, no more telling her about my life, or her grandchild. Just waiting for…

I am so sorry for the anticipated loss of your mother. It is never too late to say the things you want to say. Even if you can’t say them to her. Write them out. Make a recording. Do it for you.

It feels as if I was the only person in my mid 40’s feeling so lost. I’m married with 3 children 13, 18, 20 and I lost my oldest son when he was 3 years old. My mom comforted me through all the hard times with words of wisdom, encouragement, prayer and hugs. My husband does his best to help. But the pain of losing my mom who was my best friend wound is so deep I’m not confident I will be ok. I hope I can learn skills to cope and continue to be a good mom and wife for my family. I will definitely need more support.

I am so sorry for your losses, both your son and your mother. When you have had that wonderful relationship with your mother, there is just no one person who can ever come close to her support. You will be OK. It is a struggle but your mother would not have wanted it any other way. You do need someone to walk with you in your grief journey. We can help with that. We offer grief coaching. The coach who I would recommend is Danyetta Najoli. Danyetta Najoli. The new coaching page is not live yet but here is her link to schedule a time. Lynette please know we at the Motherless Daughters Ministry will walk with you in your grief.

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