When Life is Hard and Your Mom is Gone

By: Heather Wolper

My mom has been gone almost 20 years now. It’s been almost half of my lifetime. I graduated from college without her, got married without her, had my babies without her and I have celebrated milestones and grieved heartbreaks without her.

And you know what? I still miss her.

Sometimes, it’s a faint missing, like a whisper in my ear, and other times it’s as if someone punched me square in the stomach doubling me over.

Some years, the anniversary of her death gets buried in the chaos of May until days later when I finally come up for air and I add another tally to the pile of years she’s been gone.

Other years, grief surprises me thick and fresh, and everywhere I go the shrill scream of missing rattles in my head.

Lately, life has been hard, not the regular kind of hard, but the hard that pushes in from all around until you wish you didn’t have to get out of bed in the morning, but you have to because the 5 little people you love more than life need you to chin up and be strong.

I almost lost one of my little people this year. I sat by his bedside as doctors poked and prodded and begged God to wake him up. My mom wasn’t there to put her arm around me and hold me up as I wept.

She hasn’t been here through the long months of joblessness that have dredged up doubt and a distorting blur of sadness.

So this Spring, as Mother’s Day approached, the missing became a shrill scream from deep inside. While the world went on around me, my heart ached for her. And a few days later, on the anniversary of her death, I sat at my sweet son’s elementary school graduation and wished with a wild desperation that she knew him. Because, she would have loved him and understood him in a way that I’m not equipped to understand.

But, that old beast shame kept whispering, “Suck it up. You shouldn’t be crumpled up missing your mommy. You’re a grown woman with your own children. Pull it the heck together.”

But, the more I tried, the harder it got and the missing just grew.

I’ve tried hard to hold it all together for my husband and my kids over this long hard year and some days I’ve done a terrible job.

On those days, the missing has grown, because apart from my sweet, wonderful husband and some dear old friends, my mom was the one person I could be 100% percent myself with and not worry about surprising her or disappointing her.

She always extended empathy before advice, a hug before a spiritual pep talk and a place to let my emotions spill out rather than coolly reasoning them away.

So on the hard days, when fear creeps in and I wonder how we’ll manage to pay the next bill and discouragement threatens to steal my peace and joy, I yearn to pick up the phone and hear her gentle voice on the other end.

I want to draw from the deep well of empathy that she built through her own suffering. I want her to tell me that God is good even when life is hard.  I want to hear her tell me that the way I am feeling is ok and doesn’t make me less spiritual or less capable or just less. I want her to tell me it’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to have hard days.  I want her to tell me that I’m doing a good job and that she’s proud of me for hanging on.

If you’re doubled over in your missing, I’m so sorry. It’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to have hard days, because we are motherless daughters, and some days that load hurts too much to carry on our own.

So reach out. Don’t suffer quietly. Find someone who can help carry your grief. You don’t have to do it on your own.


  1. Reply
    Kasie says

    I am thanking God right now that I came across this post. I am a year and half in from losing my
    Mom and some days it is so hard to make it through even just minutes during the day. Thank you

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Oh, Kasie, I am so sorry for what you are walking through. I’m praying that God would bind up your broken heart tonight. Spending love and prayers to you, friend.

  2. Reply
    Susan says

    Beautifully said, it’s everything I feel, and yes mine has missed my milestones, her grandchildren growing up and been young adults. I look at photos and I realize there is, 35 years of memories and 16 years of ” after she died”..it doesn’t seem right she wasn’t in those. I hope she’s proud. One thing I can say now is, when she lost her mom and she was in Canada and her mom was in California, that must have aweful for her. It’s not til thier gone that we truly understand them. Ty

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Susan, I know your mom would be so proud of the woman you are. I am so sorry she isn’t here to share life with. Sending lots of love and hugs.

  3. Reply
    Mary Ellen says

    Heather, I give thanks for you and your gift of reaching out and holding those who need to hear your words. Your mother would be proud of how your words “mothere” us.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Thank you for your encouragement, Mary Ellen ❤️

  4. Reply
    Gaynor Hastie says

    Wow, what an inspiring post – THANK YOU!
    I identify fully, having lost my darling Mum in 1994 (lost my dear Dad to
    leukemia when I was 13), and going through many serious, scary trials since, (thankfully with my two beautiful daughters unfailing love, care & support throughout), the worst this year with hubby both mentally/physically not well and unemployed, & all suffering the grief of my dear son estranging himself from us when he married 3 years ago.
    Not a day goes by when I don’t miss Mum! I thank The Lord for His Grace and Faithfulness through it all!
    Love n hugs to you! <3

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      I am so sorry for all the hardships you have walked through, but you are so right that our good and gracious God is faithful through each one. Sending you love and hugs ❤️

  5. Reply
    Penny Cesco says

    Heather your blog touched me so. Your words remind us that mother loss is a lifelong journey. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words. There are so many women out here that need to here they are not alone in their journey.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate your kind words very much and am so glad my words touched your heart. We are in this together ❤️

  6. Reply
    Kristine says

    This resonated with me to my core. I’ve gone 7 years now without my mom and just had my first baby three weeks ago. A part of me thought having this baby would help with the missing her as this baby is a little piece of her, but it has actually thrown me into quite a pit of grief. I eant so badly to ask her for advice and to be able to hand her my crying baby when I have tried everything to calm her, but more than anything I want to be comforted and nurtured by her like only she could. Thank you for sharing your experience, knowing I’m not alone or crazy helps a lot.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Oh, sweetie, I am so sorry you are missing your mom. Having a new baby is such an emotional time filled with first and crazy hormone swings and to not have your mom around to hold the baby or ask questions or give you a hug when you are overwhelmed is really hard.

      You are not alone in what you are feeling. Sending you so much love and a big hug ❤️ your mom would’ve been so proud of you.

      Love, Heather

  7. Reply
    Eliana Salvatierra says

    The first sentence immediately caused my eyes to water and felt that punch in my chest. It’s been 20 years since my mom passed away. I was 6 years old and nobody tried to explain what was going on. I hardly talk about her because I wasn’t allowed to when I was young. Holding all this pain in for so long. I miss her so much, especially now that I’m a mother. I don’t have my mother to go to ask for guidance and comfort. Especially on those hard days.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Eliana, I am so sorry you have had to hold all this pain in for such a long time and I know you must miss your mom terribly. My own mom also lost her mother when she was young. She made telling me about my grandmother a special bedtime ritual that we shared. I have continued that tradition now with my own children telling them about my mother. Perhaps, in sharing your memories of your own mom with your sweet ones, you may feel her close. Sending you so much love ❤️

  8. Reply
    Julie Rzepka says

    Thank you Heather for your words.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      I hope they made you feel a little less alone on this journey of learning to live life without your mom. Sending you love <3

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