How To Love A Motherless Daughter

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“When you love a woman who’s lost a mother, you’ll be loving someone who has experienced a grief that changed the composition of her soul and the map of her future. She will be different from other women you have known or loved. There’ll be things you’ll need to know about her– things invisible to the eye but etched on each piece of her that remains.

You’ll need to know she will feel more fragile because she is more fragile. She will be delicate in ways she can never fully express. She will hold a strength that will intimidate you and sometimes even the world, though to her it doesn’t feel like strength, it feels like survival.

You’ll need to know the unpredictability of her grief and how the smallest thing can bring her to her knees in tears and gut-wrenching pain. You’ll need to know how in those moments she simply needs someone to sit with her as she is, not trying to fix or heal her brokenness.

You’ll need to know that even when she’s in a crowd filled with people that love her, the room will still be empty of someone she loves and that emptiness will follow her wherever she goes. You’ll need to know that your voice cheering her on will bring her so much joy and pride but that it could never match or replace the one of her mother, who has and will always be her biggest cheerleader and supporter.

You’ll need to know that when she looks in the mirror it will make her sad. Not for how she sees herself, but for how she sees her mother in the reflected image. Looking in the mirror will make her miss her mother with an intensity that cannot be described. So when you see tears and sorrow while she catches glimpses of herself, it isn’t for lack of confidence or self-esteem, it’s for the blessing of her resemblance to the greatest woman she’s ever known.

You’ll need to know that some days she will need to stay busy and some days she will need to stay still. Both are equally important and usually she never knows which one she needs until she wakes up and her heart reminds her.

You need to know that she’s intelligent enough to know that her mother is not coming back and that she is ‘gone,’ as everyone constantly reminds her. But that will not stop her from looking for her in each new experience and in each new day.

You’ll need to get used to hearing her say how much she needs her mother. You’ll need to get used to hearing her say how much she misses her and wishes things were different. These statements will be repeated often, like her own lyrics to her theme song–the song of a motherless daughter.

You’ll need to know that she’s so excited and grateful for the future that she has, but that it looks incredibly different than what she always planned. She never planned to be motherless at this age. She never planned to have a mother in heaven so young, so early.

You’ll want to ease her pain and most days you’ll want to erase it completely, but this is a task that is completely unachievable. This is a heartbreak that you cannot undo. She holds an endless pain called grief. It will be like her shadow, following her delicately everywhere she goes.

You’ll need to know that there are two versions of her. The first is the version of her that had a mother here on earth. The second is a version that doesn’t. While they both look and sound like her, they are completely different people. She has been changed and transformed in ways that only someone who holds significant loss could possibly understand or recognize. Let her be different and always love both who she was and who she is now standing before you.

You’ll need to know that every big moment that is yet to come will always be sprinkled with a forever absence and an undeniable longing. On each day that she celebrates she will also be hurting, even if it’s invisible and unknown to everyone else that looks at her. Pay attention. You’ll need to know the moments when she’s holding both immense joy and deep sorrow.

You’ll need to know that she’ll forever love big and fear big. She’ll live fiercely and worry fiercely. She will be complicated but breathtaking. She will be vulnerable but tough. She will be kinder, more compassionate, and more empathetic than anyone you know. And more than anything, she will step into each day carrying the legacy of the most influential person she’s ever known, the woman who created her.

Love her well. Love her intentionally. Love her boldly. She deserves it because she’ll love you the same. She was taught by the best.”

beareaved daugher hugging husband in blue plaid shirt and smiling
Courtesy of Chelsea Ohlemiller

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chelsea Ohlemiller of Indianapolis, Indiana. You can follow her journey on FacebookInstagram, and her blog. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Chelsea:

I Became An Adult The Day My Mother Died

Grief Changes You—I Am Not The Same Girl I Was Before

‘I used to yell. It was the only way to get his attention. One day, I stopped. I simply whispered, ‘I’m leaving. I’m filing for divorce.’ He barely looked up.’: Woman urges ‘find a life loud in love’

‘Dad takes broken things and makes them whole again, with the love, sweat, and all things great only a father can provide.’: Grieving daughter says ‘it’s not just houses he fixes, it’s people too’

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