Mary Ellen Collins, Ph.D.

When Mary Ellen Collins was 15, she lost her mother to breast cancer. Only when Mary Ellen was stricken with a severe illness in 1999 was she forced to examine how mother loss has affected her life. As a result of confronting the early loss of her mother, Mary Ellen developed and began the first Motherless Daughters’ Study Group in the Cincinnati area. Motherless Daughters is a passionate ministry that continues to reach out to daughters who have lost their mothers at all stages of life. Mary Ellen set and accomplished several professional goals in her life including practicing as a registered nurse, college professor, and becoming a small business owner and consultant. She is also a passionate mother, grandmother, and wife.

How We Got Started & How We’ve Grown

The Motherless Daughter Ministry began as a book club using the 1st edition of Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman. Five of us, all good friends had never talked about our mother loss. You just don’t mention it because you think that no one will understand, right? Our healing was profound. Our first group focused on early loss, then evolved to include women who experienced later loss and those who had living mothers but had never been nurtured. Originally, we started using only the book, Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman but found as Christians we needed a scripture based workbook to accompany the book. Our first workbook was written to be used in multiple classes and is now in its 2nd edition.

Today, the Motherless Daughter Ministry has ministered to hundreds of women who have in return ministered to many, many other motherless daughters. Women are changed by this ministry. We firmly believe if you are on this website right now, God has led you here. As you begin your healing journey, you may find that some things just don’t fit your story. Don’t dismiss it! You will need all of this information because God has plans for you to help other motherless daughters.

We hear hundreds of stories about just this. One woman had experienced later loss and struggled with relating to stories about other’s early loss in class. She just couldn’t relate. We assured her that God would use her in some way and she needed to know this information. A few weeks after our conversation, she returned with an amazing story. She had a client who told her about the sudden loss of his wife and his challenge of how to handle this loss with his 6 year old daughter. She was able to minister to him. God does have a plan!

We are thrilled and excited that you have chosen to explore this website. It may say that you are ready to begin your journey. Check out what is available to you.

We encourage you to not do this alone. Find an accountability partner. Find someone to talk to. Get a group of motherless daughters together. Start a class. Just keep it small, no more than 8, so everyone has a chance to talk.

Here is our prayer for you as you begin:

May God bless you and loosen the strongholds of loss and grief so you may experience all the richness and blessings that He has for you.May He give you new insights and knowledge so you may choose how to manage your loss instead of your loss managing you.

May He change the way you look at your past.


We will be walking beside you if not physically, in spirit.