Losing a Mother Changes Everything About a Child

When a girl loses her mother at a young age, everything she would have become changes. The loss is so monumental, it creates a seismic shift. The woman she would have been changes and the woman she will become will forever be affected by that loss.

If that sounds dramatic, then you probably didn't lose your mother at a young age. Those of us who did know it's true. We know the way you long for -- and will continue to long for -- your mother every day for the rest of your life, but especially once you become a mother. It's a "club" that no one wants to join. And no one knows it better than women who have been there, too. A new documentary that is still in the making is exploring this "club."

Called The Club, the documentary film features Molly Shannon, Rosie O'Donnell, and several other women who lost their moms early in life (Shannon was 4 and O'Donnell was 11). Watch the trailer here.


As writer Hope Edelman says in Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss:

When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected way. This isn't pathological. It's normal. It's why you find yourself, at 24, or 35, or 43, unwrapping a present, or walking down an aisle, or crossing a busy street, doubled over and missing your mother, because she died when you were 17.

It's true. I lost my mother at 16 and everything about the mother I have become was because of it. I was married young, had my children younger than most of my friends, and feel connected to my children (and worried about them) in ways I'm not sure others can understand. I can't take anything for granted. I know how quickly we can lose those people we love. Every single day with them is a gift.

Having children doesn't fix what was lost, though I probably once thought it would. I miss my mother more now that I have my own kids and she can't meet them. But every time I see my mother's face in my daughter's or her laugh in my son's, I feel closer to her than I have in 17 years.

A relative once told me that a writer we both like who writes a lot about mother loss was a "one-trick pony." I was shocked. Only a woman who had her mother to the age of 60 could possibly say such a shockingly insensitive thing. Because I know that when you've lost your mom before 20, it colors everything. It makes you the person you become. But then it's a club, one few people join, but once you do, you understand. And you would never say something so uninformed.

This documentary explores what that is like and what it's like to become a mom after losing yours. It's powerful and I hope it gets made, both for those of us who have experienced the loss and for those who want to understand it.

Did you lose your mother young?


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