Gentle tips for the motherless daughter on Mother’s Day


Good for you—you got here safely. The hardest part is over. And I’ll just say this: oh, honey, I know what you’re going through. You are not alone.

Fellow motherless daughter, allow me to offer you the blog equivalent of a bone-crushing hug, a long one, the kind that makes you sort of sag against the other person and realize it’s been a long time that you’ve been able to relax with Someone Who Gets It. Particularly this week, as Mother’s Day draws ever closer. Well-meaning friends with living mothers, loving spouses—their support goes a long way. But if they haven’t lost their mothers, well, they don’t get it fully, do they?

We get it. We here are The Club. The Motherless Daughters’ Club. We didn’t sign up for this. But here we are, and oh, the comfort upon recognizing the presence of the group of us. We are very lucky in one sense: the social media era is an easier time to be a motherless daughter. We can connect with fellow motherless daughters all around the world. We can swap stories, draw strength from this unexpected community. So, welcome.


I’d like to offer a few pieces of wisdom I’ve accrued along the journey of 23 years’ worth of Mother’s Days without my mom. The biggest is one you’ve already caught on to, and that is, seek out others who are struggling with the same thing over Mother’s Day Weekend. Here are some more thoughts. I would love, love, love to hear from others on what you do to honor the day, the weekend, how you save yourself, nourish yourself. I’d love this post, over the next several days, to be a forum of sharing stories, a place to escape to, return to. But I’ll settle for a simple stop-by, the knowledge that others have read this, and the hope that it has eased the pain in their hearts.

Gentle Tips for the Motherless Daughter

  • Share your stories, your memories with others who struggle this weekend (or, if you are a reader living in the UK, this was back in March).
  • Eat chocolate. Or a favorite pastry. Whipped cream. Calories don’t count on Mother’s Day.
  • Write out your pain, your stories. Again, share them. I take such weird comfort in hearing others’ unburden their hearts, their stories of what “mother” meant to them. Happy stories, sad ones, lost-connection stories, inspirational ones, reconciliation ones. All of them.
  • Seek out “Motherless Daughter” events on the Saturday before That Difficult Day. There are a surprising number of events, all over the place.
  • Read Hope Edelman’s Motherless Daughters
  • Chuckle over the idiocy of Hallmark, the retail and restaurant industries, in not marketing to us, the motherless daughter sector of the population. They’re clueless about our pain. They’re missing a gold mine. (Good…)
  • Bake an old family recipe that whispers “Mom” to you. Here’s my chosen recipe. It’s on a 25-year-old notecard, yellowing with age, written up in my mom’s handwriting. Which is kinda choking me up right now.

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This recipe is featured in an essay I wrote, years back, about me and my mom and the relationship’s loving, often baffling complicatedness. It was published in the anthology Women Who Eat and can be found here in last week’s blog: I hope you’ll consider reading it. It’s my motherless daughter story-share for the year. I hope you’ll consider posting one of your own here, too.

I’ll be thinking of all of you, fellow motherless daughters, all this weekend. Saturday, because there are so many wonderful opportunities these days to seek out a motherless daughter gathering, and it’s the easier day to celebrate the memories. Sunday because, well, you know why. Above all, I hope the message can get sent out and drummed into as many hearts and minds as possible.

You are not alone. You will never have to face another Mother’s Day feeling totally alone. We are here. Welcome.


PS: Here is my last year’s “write your heart out” Mother’s Day share-story. It brought me untold comfort to have so many readers visit the page and then share the link on Facebook. It was last year, in truth, that I really caught on what an enormous – not to mention enormously supportive – group this was. A big heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you.


8 thoughts on “Gentle tips for the motherless daughter on Mother’s Day”

    • Jenny, I just read your story – oh wow, how wonderful and sad and uplifting all at once. Attention other readers: go check out Jenny’s story. It’s lovely. And Jenny, the photo just tore at my heart. So glad I got to see the other, of you as a mother, not just you with your mother. Kind of balances all things out, huh? I must say, the pain of Mother’s Day is cut in half when you have a child. Being called “mom” instead of just thinking of an absent mom is particularly soothing on that day. (Except when it’s my teen son wanting something from me that I don’t want to give…)

      • Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate you sending readers my way, too. It does kind of balance things out. Though I miss my children getting to know their Grandma. I had an incredibly special relationship with mine and I wish they knew that love. In some ways, missing her comforts me. It reminds that the love remains, no matter how many years pass.

        It is great to “meet” you. Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂

        • Jenny, another great reply! And oh, the “Grandma” thing – yes! I lost my dear mother-in-law when my son was only two. (A brutal, unfortunate thing, for a motherless daughter to lose their mom substitute too soon, as well…) So wish my son could have known both his grandmothers. But yes, the missing of departed ones brings its own power and comfort. Well put.

          So nice to meet you too. The social media connecting has made this a particularly comforting Mother’s Day. And I’m enjoying sharing links of other stories, so any reader coming here feels the connection (in more ways than one!).

  1. Oh goodness. First, I just wanted to say thank you. I didn’t exactly realize that I wasn’t alone in this. This will be my first Mother’s Day without my mom. She passed away in February. I was 18. I somehow managed to make it through what would have been her 45th birthday, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through this Sunday. This post helped. A lot.

    • Oh, your reply brought ME such warmth and comfort, even thought it’s been many years now, and I’m used to the drill. But your words “I didn’t exactly realize that I wasn’t along in this” made me feel happy for you (and all of us in this situation) and sad that it’s certain you are going through a hard, HARD time – ouch, since only February, and both of you so young. My heart goes out to you. Keep reminding yourself that the first year is the hardest. (Tell yourself that on her birthday, your birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well.) And YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I have had such a wonderful experience within social media, over the past 5 years, because I’ve been able to connect with fellow motherless daughters and hear their stories. And they are sad, touching stories to hear. I was 27 and my mom was 64. I could cry for you, thinking, again, at the young age of both you and your mother.

      Be extra good to yourself that day. Come back here to The Classical Girl and see if others like you have left their stories. Last year, for the first time, I baked a recipe she was well known for making. I very much felt her presence through that. But most of all, I felt the presence of this great web of fellow daughters who are learning to make do with what the day brings, and can understand that we are a club; we are not alone.

      Big hugs to you. Your story really touches me (darned if I’m not tearing up right now) and I’ll be thinking about you next Sunday. Consider dropping me another line here to let me know how you’re coping with the day, or drop me a line via “contact me.” Or, just read this message and bask in the knowledge that you are not alone, and someone is thinking of you on that day (and, as I’m 52 and a mom myself, I’ve got all this mom vibe coming out of me right now that I’m happy to nudge along your way).



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