If you have a daughter who has lost her mother, you may feel lost about how to help. Knowing that everyone processes grief differently is crucial, so what works for one daughter grieving the loss of mother might not work for another. However, some general tips can help you support your daughter as she mourns her mother’s death. Let’s look at some essential tips for helping a daughter grieving the loss of her mother.
A Mother’s Death: Handling the First Few Months
From the moment a mother takes her last breath, daughters enter a strange new world where their mother’s love is no longer a part of their life. For a child, there can be significant confusion about what has happened.
Even if hospice care helped pave the way for the loss, the idea of a “deceased loved one” may confuse a child. Your children wonder where Mom went and may initially only miss her presence.
It can take time for the new reality to set in that Mom is not returning. With the recognition that Mom is no longer in their lives, children often feel lost. This period is when a daughter’s mourning may begin.
When Reality Sets In
However, for a child, besides tears, more negative effects of mourning may present as a stomach ache or headaches. It can show through in temper tantrums or loss of joy or excitement about life. There may be a constant need for a daughter to declare her love for her other parent as she begins grieving.
The initial grief of a child over the death of a mother’s loss can be a broken heart. However, a child coping with parental loss may lose daily functioning when the death of Mom begins to sink in as a reality. She might struggle with bedwetting or quitting to pay attention in school. Siblings may fight more often or ignore each other and retreat to their rooms.
In a pediatric grief study, children losing a parent had higher rates of depression than nonbereaved children for the first two years following the parent’s death but not in subsequent years. Children who were less than 12 years old when their parent died were more likely to have depression than those who lost a parent in adolescence. Grieving children also had higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than non-bereaved children. (2)
How to Cope as a Parent
Bereaved parents struggle when losing a child, but bereaved spouses struggle almost as much to give attention to children while processing their own grief. It’s difficult to go through each day with a family missing a mother. In a way, it can feel like the family you had ended, and a new type of family began.
This is not a time to isolate and ignore your children. Reach out to family and friends for help as you cope with a new reality. Your family needs love and care from others, and your children need help to seek to understand and grieve this loss. Reach out to a local grief counselor or therapist for additional help if needed.
You can support your children by listening to them as they talk about their mother’s death, allowing them to cry and be angry without judgment, and reminding them that it is normal to feel sad and different. Helping your daughter find appropriate ways to express her grief can open the door to healing.
It is also essential to remember that your daughter may need even more attention during this time. Do what you can to make her feel secure and safe, such as reading stories together or going on special outings or trips with her. Focusing on creating positive memories around grief can support emotional healing in daughters who have lost their mothers.
Let’s look at more tips for helping your daughter cope with losing her mother.
Tips For Supporting Your Daughter Grieving Loss of Mother
Children who experience parental loss are at a higher risk for many negative outcomes, including mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, somatic complaints, post-traumatic stress symptoms), shorter schooling, less academic success, lower self-esteem, and more sexual risk behaviors. (1)
Doing what you can to help can make a difference in your child’s ability to cope with mother loss. Consider the following to help your daughter with the loss of a mother.
One of the best ways to support your daughter is by listening to her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Don’t try to fix the problem or tell her how she should feel – just be there for her and listen.
Encourage your daughter to talk about memories of her mother and express any feelings that come up. This can be an incredibly healing process for her. Allow times of melancholy, and don’t try to silence loud emotions or tell her not to cry. Crying helps us release our grief and express our anguish. Without going through this crucial process, she may find herself stuck in grief that doesn’t resolve.
Don’t try to rush your daughter through the grief process or diminish her feelings. It is essential to allow her to grieve however she needs to, even if it means spending a lot of time alone.
Make space for your daughter to do whatever she needs. This could be spending time alone, sharing stories with friends and family, or attending therapy if needed.
Spend Time Together
It is essential to make time for your daughter and yourself. You can do simple activities together like walking in nature or watching a movie.
Help Her Find Meaning
Encourage your daughter to find new meaning and purpose in life. She can do this by connecting with people she loves, starting a new hobby, or volunteering for a cause that has meaning for her.
Help her Connect
Connecting with aunts or other women who can act as mentors can encourage her. They can help her find out who she is by remembering her mother and learning more about what she is good at and enjoys doing.
These are just some of the essential tips that can help you support your daughter as she grieves the loss of her mother.
Struggles of Girls Growing Up as Motherless Daughters
The death of a parent can leave a daughter feeling lost, alone, and confused. This one event can significantly impact the rest of a daughter’s life. However, you can help her by being there for her as she grieves the loss of her mother.
This is a time when she needs your love and support more than ever. When a daughter loses her mother, it can be one of the most challenging things she will ever go through. The grief process is different for everyone, though.
A mother and daughter often share identity touchpoints. A daughter losing a mother loses a part of herself and may feel a compromised sense of identity.
From birth, most daughters look at their mothers to decide who to be and how to act. They may rebel against the mother or choose to be more like her during different stages of development.
Usually, a daughter maturing into her own woman is a long process ending with an adult daughter who has accomplished the personal growth to become her independent adult self. She has decided who she is and how she is similar and different to her mother. Essentially, she becomes herself.
However, when this process is disrupted at a young age, it can be tough for a daughter to understand who she is without her mother. This can be incredibly heartbreaking and hard to process. As a parent, you need to understand that your daughter needs time and patience as she navigates this complicated situation.
Dealing with Mother’s Day
The death of a mother at any age can cause a deep and profound sense of loneliness and grief that many people fail to recognize or acknowledge.
According to Psychology Today “Grief is an ongoing process. Participants reported going through periods of time years after the parental loss, when grief re-emerged, with heightened feelings of sadness, anxiety, and longing. The need to share life’s stressful and joyful moments with departed loved ones comes up around significant life events, including graduation, marriage, and other milestones, and when times are difficult, creating yearning for the dead parent.”
The first mother’s day after a mother dies can bring back the pain of losing their mother all over again. Because their mother died, a daughter may feel especially lost on mother’s day with everyone else celebrating and doing activities with their mothers.
Because the daughter no longer has that special bond, her support system is especially crucial on special holidays that bring back memories of her mother’s legacy.
Throughout her life, she will remember and re-grieve her mother’s death in her own ways.
Because our mother is usually the first person we love deeply, losing that connection can leave a daughter without the ability to feel loved. That’s why a best friend or family surrounding her on difficult days can help her experience the pain and keep moving forward.
Consider Hiring Mental Health Professionals
Support groups led by a counselor can be a helpful way to cope with grief over lost mothers. When your daughter can connect with others who lost their mothers, she may feel less alone. Social groups at her school may not understand what she is facing or see what she is going through.
People don’t always know what to do when a friend deals with loss. This is true in adulthood and even more so for kids. Participants in a recent study reported that their friends didn’t know how to react and sometimes said hurtful things without intending to out of uncertainty and inexperience: “They have this look, where they feel sorry for you, and that pisses me off. Because they don’t get it,” and “They say ‘I’m sure in a couple of days you’ll feel better.’” (3)
The American Psychiatric Association states that “Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for grief, especially when provided by a therapist who specializes in loss and bereavement.”
Many mental healthcare professionals and grief groups work specifically with children who have lost a Mom or Dad. A counselor can help your daughter process feelings of sadness, frustration, guilt, and anger and provide her with healthy coping skills.
Additionally, they may suggest activities to honor her mother, such as creating a special scrapbook or writing her mother a letter.
Finding Help In North Carolina
In the Wake County area, Transitions GriefCare is a trusted community resource offering bereavement support to people coping with the death of a family member, colleague, or friend.
Their mental health professionals provide short-term counseling, support groups, workshops, and other services designed to compassionately meet the needs of adults, children, and teens seeking to address the unique challenges of grief and create a path toward healing. With the many groups available, you can help your daughter process some of the pain of grieving and give her a sense of hope again.
Grief support is available at no cost to residents of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties, regardless of whether the family was served by Transitions LifeCare. Bereavement services must be initiated directly by the individual, or by the guardian of a minor child.
Ultimately, your daughter needs time and space to grieve the loss of her mother. Whether she needs support groups or mental healthcare professionals, she can eventually find peace in honoring her mother’s memory with the right support.
We Can Help
At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we help create beautiful and memorable events to honor your loved one. We understand the importance of honoring your loved one’s memory, and we can help you create a service that celebrates the life of a loved one.
We are here to provide support and guidance during this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance. We look forward to helping you plan a meaningful celebration of life.