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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.

Comments(36)

  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.

    • Reply
      Angie says

      I know, I’m right there with you.

  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

      Gaynor,
      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

      Penny,
      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

      Kristine,
      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

      Julie,
      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
      Heather

  9. Reply
    Jennifer says

    My mom has been gone a year and a half. I miss her more now than ever. Life is really hard rite now. I am 55 years old, and I am a grandmother myself. But I need her. I need my mommy.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Jennifer, I am so sorry that life is hard right now and that you’re missing your mom. I appreciate your vulnerability so much. You are not alone in missing your mom and in still needing her. My own mother in law (who is in her 60s) lost her mom last year and it made me realize that no matter how old you are when you lose your mother, it leaves a tremendous hole in your heart. I’m praying that the Lord would strengthen you, comfort you and bring wave after wave of joy in the midst of your heartache.

    • Reply
      Leslie moore says

      I feel for you I’m the same lost my mom a year and a half ago. She was just found gone in her home here one day gone the next. It was the most shocking experience of my life. My dad left this Earth 16 years ago but nothing hurts as bad as loosing your mother. Then another blow that brought me to my knees my brother and only sibling passed from cancer only 5 months later he was only 59. Loosing them both hurts so bad but the overwhelming feeling is being alone is Earth shattering. I have my husband, 3 children and 6 grandchildren but it’s not the same. My daughter had my 6 the grandchild this year and joyfully she was born on my mother’s birthday I’m positive that my mother made this happen only one of many signs I see she has sent. It helps me cope knowing she is here just in a different way. But I miss her physically her face her words and stories I know she is with me I have to believe this or I might just lay down and die.

  10. Reply
    Leslie moore says

    So wonderfully written thank you. I lost my mom 1yr ago I’m 55 but it hit me like a brick. I’m so sad she will never meet her new great granddaughter she was born on my mom’s birthday and shares her middle name. I’m sad that baby Sofia will never know her love. I’ll never stop missing her. I moved into her house it helps I feel her here

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Leslie, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. I know it must be so incredibly bitter sweet to hold your sweet grand-baby knowing she shares your mother’s birthdate and name. What a precious bond Sofia will have with your mother. As she explores the house that has so many memories of your mom, perhaps you will be able to share stories and memories with her to celebrate her wonderful great grandmother <3 Sending love and hugs.

  11. Reply
    Chloe says

    Thank you for this article…I just lost my Mother, my best friend and prayer partner…as much as I am overjoyed that she is with our Savior after having lived through much trials from her start to her end, I miss her desperately…and when I think of all the life I have left to live without her physical presence, it makes me nervous. I’ve survived the most difficult of circumstances with and because of her. I can’t fathom it. However I know the Lord is faithful…thanks for your voice and experience….it helps and comforts.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Oh, Chloe. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. I understand the ache and anxiety of wondering how on earth you’ll be able to keep living your life without the prayers, deep faith and support of your mom. God will pour out grace upon grace for each moment. The faith that she instilled in you will be your anchor. I’m praying that God would pour out his comfort on you tonight and in the days ahead.

      • Reply
        Chloe says

        Thank you Ms. Heather Wolper – you’re a God-sent.

        • Reply
          Jennifer says

          Tha k you for these words of encouragement. I lost my mom in December of 2017 and Omgoodness there are days when I can smile at remembering and then like ton of bricks I want to curl up and bawl.

  12. Reply
    Julie Himes says

    Thank you so much for posting. As a mom that was very encouraging. My mom has been fading for years and this may be the week that she passes. It’s a very sad time, and I know that every stage God has blessed me with a beautiful purpose in her life. She was always there for me and now I’m thankful that I could be there for her. I have been grieving for years and I know this week will be difficult. Thank you for your ministry as I’m sure I will be blessed by it in years to come.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Oh, Julie. I am so sorry. Watching your mom slowly fade and diminish before your eyes is so painful. I’m praying for you during this very hard week that the Lord would be close, that his Holy Spirit would pour our comfort in you, your mom and your entire family.
      “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
      2 Corinthians 4:16-18

  13. Reply
    Shari says

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s only been since August 2018 that I lost my mom. She had been through so much pain and health issues she finally gave up. I’m still in shock. I struggle everyday and feel so alone. Her birthday was April 6th. She won’t be here for my 50th birthday or see my daughters beautiful dress for prom. She won’t be here for the graduation of my daughter just so many things. I feel the biggest hole in my heart.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Shari,
      I am so sorry your are struggling. Losing your mom is so very hard and you are not alone in your suffering. It’s bittersweet to look forward to those special days knowing you can’t share them with your mom. Praying you would feel her presence all around you this Spring as you celebrate these milestones with your daughter.
      Heather

  14. Reply
    Amanda says

    I lost my mom last year in November. She was 60, i was 39. It’s been so hard and i miss her everyday. I just turned 40 and wanted to skip my birthday because mom wasn’t there to say, “my gosh amanda, you’re 40 years old now”. But i hear her voice all the time and have seen her in a dream once. The dream was amazing. Months after she passed o finally saw her again. We were talking, she was giving me advice. Suddenly i realized she was there and i ran over to her and wrapped my arms around her, told her how i missed her so much and that I still needed her. All she said before i woke up was that she knew that and that she had been praying for me. Not a day goes by I don’t think of her and more often than not still cry for her, like now. Still can’t believe she’s gone. I have 2 children, 18 and 19 and it’s sad that she wont be there for their weddings or her great grandbabies and everything in between. She was also the one person i could tell anything to without judgement and i knew that she was always in my corner. Life isn’t the same without her. Now, i spend my days with the thought of her in my mind constantly and everything i see or do makes me think of her. It’s so sad it’s unbearable some days. I only can hope that someday I will see her again and get that hug amd smile that i miss so much.

  15. Reply
    Heather Wolper says

    Amanda,
    Your mom clearly loved you so much. What a sweet gift that you could see her in your dreams and get a hug from her.
    I am so sorry you’re heart is breaking and that you had to celebrate your birthday without her. Those special milestones are so bittersweet without your mom.
    Praying that God would pour out his immeasurable comfort as you begin to learn how to live life without your mom.
    Heather

  16. Reply
    Jamie Oliver says

    Feeling this so. very. much. today. Thank you for sharing. The missing is not less because of time, it is just different.

    • Reply
      Heather Wolper says

      Sending you a big hug and covering you in prayers today, Jamie ❤️ When I wrote this, it was very hard to share, but I’m thankful that God used my vulnerability to help others walking the same road.

  17. Reply
    Leslie A Cantu says

    Thanks for this post! It truly resonated with me this am & it is crazy how well all your feelings, thoughts & struggles related to me at this exact moment in my life. I also have 5 little people that depend on me & I dislike that I cant give my full potential to them at all times because of my grieving. I am currently in the middle of a custody battle with my ex & he is using them against me because of his misery & I hate that I don’t have her here to turn to during one of the most stressful & painful times in my life. I lost her when I was 10 years old which was 25 years ago & not a day goes by that I don’t miss her & wonder how much more better life would be with her right by my side in this journey of life! Thanks again for your wonderful words!

  18. Reply
    Heather Wolper says

    Leslie, I am so sorry you lots your mom at such a young age and that you’ve had to grow up without her. It is so hard to walk through such a hard time right now without the support of your mom. Sending you hugs and prayers for better days ahead. Your kids are lucky to have their mama fighting so hard for them ❤️

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