How to Get Over the Death of Your Mother

No one is prepared to face the loss of a loved one; especially the death of a mother. This may be for many the most traumatic experience of their lives. What can you do to deal with this grief?
How to Get Over the Death of Your Mother
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

When it comes to overcoming the death of your mother, there are no magic recipes or quick strategies. Indeed, although you know that this experience will come at some point, you’re never prepared for it. It doesn’t matter that you’re already an adult and that you’ve previously dealt with other losses, adversities, and emotional dramas.

In fact, the loss of a mother is one of the most painful and traumatic events in your life. That’s because so much depends on the relationship you have with your mother. Consequently, the link between you is usually extremely loving and meaningful,

The writer Joan Didion said, in her excellent book, The Year of Magical Thinking, in which she addressed the issue of mourning, that life goes by quickly and, sometimes, it can change us in an instant. If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, you’ll recognize this process.

However, how do you deal with this particular circumstance that we all have to go through at some point in our lives?

The loss of a mother is possibly the first experience you’ll go through without her being there to support you.

sad man trying to get over the death of a mother

Strategies for coping with the death of your mother

There’s no set amount of time of mourning for your mother. As a matter of fact, in reality, you never completely get over it, but you do learn to live with the loss. This means that two, three, or five years can pass, and, suddenly, you find you need to cry again over their absence. This is perfectly normal.

The University of North Texas (USA) conducted research in which they emphasized the need for support at this time.  They stated that each person faces grief in their own way, hence some will need more time and others less. Each loss is also unique. For instance, sometimes, the losses are sudden and at other times the result of a long illness.

Everyone’s own reality is unique. However, what’s most needed in your experience of loss is to have help and support in your journey through grief. Because the pain is paralyzing and makes you want to simply curl up and be on your own for a while.

Furthermore, in these moments, you realize that, for the first time in your life, you’re having to deal with suffering without counting on the help of your mother. Let’s take a look at some basic strategies that can help you.

Allow yourself to feel every sensation, emotion, and memory

Everything counts. Every emotion that imprisons your body and mind after the death of your mother is valid and you must accept it. You might feel rage, anger, sadness, misunderstanding, frustration, longing, fear, and desolation. Furthermore, the first days after your loss are always blurry and you usually experience a strange feeling of unreality. This is completely normal.

After the loss of a loved one, it’s normal to feel a kind of emotional numbness. It’s difficult for you to react to things, life goes slower, and it’s not easy to stay connected with the world outside and what’s happening around you. This is all part of grieving.

Everyone experiences pain in a different way

Your pain is unique. Others must respect this fact. For example, even two brothers might deal with their loss differently, because the relationship they each had with their mother wasn’t the same. As we mentioned earlier, some need to cry for longer and have more moments of solitude.

On the other hand, you may need to talk to your friends and family and feel the constant closeness of your loved ones. There’s no norm. For this reason, it’s important that you’re not pushed to move on as soon as possible. You need time to adjust your own rhythms and processes of emotional readjustment.

Acceptance: life will never be the same again. It’ll always be different

To overcome the death of your mother, you must understand that your life will no longer ever be the same. Although others may urge you to “return to normality” that normality will no longer be there, it’ll no longer be possible. The acceptance of your loss will come when you understand that things will be different, but not worse.

You’ll adapt because life will move forward and you’ll still have wonderful friends, family, and partners. Nevertheless, in your heart, there’ll be an emptiness, but you’ll learn to live with it. Because the pain for those who are no longer with you slowly transforms, like a flower that germinates into something new. It turns into another form of love, one that protects you and is always with you.

Talk about your mother, remember her, and allow yourself to have bad days

You have to talk about what hurts so that it hurts less. Therefore, it’s good to share with your loved ones those moments you shared with your mother. That’s because remembering her is honoring her. Keeping her in your mind means she’s still with you, and her memory doesn’t block you but drives you on. Because she’d want you to be happy.

In fact, she’d want you to have all the happiness in the world. Hence, one way to honor her is by having a meaningful life. On the other hand, you must also accept that you’ll experience feelings of sadness and longing from time to time. Indeed, you’ll have bad days, but this is perfectly normal.

One way to honor your mother is by having the life she would’ve wanted for you. Being happy is a way of honoring her. Her memory will live forever in your heart and this is how you can make her present in your life every day.

nature symbolizing how to overcome the death of a mother

Find your peace and give new meanings to your existence

Every loss forces you to reformulate many things. It’s really difficult, but to overcome the death of your mother you need to gradually find some inner peace. To find your balance. Everyone finds it in their own way. For example, you may realize that you must make some changes in your life so that it has greater meaning and significance.

Furthermore, with the loss of your mother, you become aware of your own transience and this urges you to live with greater meaning. Doing so is also a way of honoring her.

How to keep your family together after the death of your mother

You might find that your family structure is altered after the death of your mother. In fact, it can expose relationship problems between you and your siblings, or between you (or your siblings) and your father or other figures. Indeed, each family nucleus has its own characteristics.

However, this traumatic loss affects everyone in your family, and it wouldn’t be right for it to fall apart. It’s certainly not what your mother would’ve wanted. This undoubtedly forces you all to make efforts and to unite your intentions. After all, you all need each other, even more in the midst of such a painful emptiness.

Therefore, try to iron out your differences and extinguish past grudges. Restart and nurture the bond with your relatives to make you all stronger, so that everything built by your mother survives. Support and look out for each other, schedule frequent meetings, and make plans together. Affection requires commitment, and fulfilled commitment builds love and trust.

Finally, the sadness you feel for the loss of your mother will always lay dormant. Nonetheless, you’ll learn to live with this emptiness. Missing her, longing for her, remembering her when you do or see certain things is a way of making your love for her present, in the here and now. Finding joy again isn’t betrayal, it means leading the life that she would’ve wanted for you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ellis, J., Dowrick, C., & Lloyd-Williams, M. (2013). The long-term impact of early parental death: lessons from a narrative study. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine106(2), 57–67.
  • Hayslip B, Pruett JH, Caballero DM. The “How” and “When” of Parental Loss in Adulthood: Effects on Grief and Adjustment. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying. 2015;71(1):3-18. doi:10.1177/0030222814568274
  • Schmitz-Binnall E. Resilience in adult women who experienced early mother loss. All Antioch University Dissertations & Theses.
  • Szanto K, Shear MK, Houck PR, et al. Indirect self-destructive behavior and overt suicidality in patients with complicated grief. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;67(2):233-239. doi:10.4088/jcp.v67n0209
  • Keyes KM, Pratt C, Galea S, McLaughlin KA, Koenen KC, Shear MK. The burden of loss: unexpected death of a loved one and psychiatric disorders across the life course in a national study. AJP. 2014;171(8):864-871. doi:10.4088/jcp.v67n0209

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.