Missing Mothers and Matriarchs



“It’s the most wonderful time…of the year.” Well, not for everyone. I had always heard that the holidays weren’t happy for some people, but I thought that only applied to lonely people, you know the one’s without any family.  I have a wonderful husband, 4 exceptionally precious little girls, a compassionate father, a fun loving sister, a brother and sister-in-love I’m so proud of, adorable nieces, nephews, and a huge network of extended, loving family and friends. I am not lonely by any stretch of the imagination, but I continue to struggle through the holidays since the death of my mother five years ago.

I have the honor and privilege of having nothing but fun loving memories of my mother.  She smiled and laughed…a lot!!!

Sometimes I think that maybe if our relationship wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t hurt so bad, but I know that’s not the case.  I know of people who had relationships with their mothers that weren’t necessarily positive, but the loss they feel still leaves an empty place in their hearts. There has to be an extreme spiritual significance of the person who gives you life.

I lost my mom to breast cancer.  After being in remission for almost 5 years, the cancer returned and she succumbed to the disease 14 months after the reoccurrence. As much as the experience involved so much sadness, I cannot deny the existence of God. I had the opportunity to share my mom’s last 14 months of life with my immediate family as she lived with us in Georgia.  The day that my mother passed away, she was surrounded by all her children, her best friends, and even her ex-husband! (I owe my dad’s wife many thanks for this).

As I cling to my faith as a follower of Christ, I am grateful for His faithfulness and all the private, secret prayers He has answered. I think about the tragic losses of children and parents that have been experienced by some of my friends and I know that their pain and grief is unimaginable. I think of the little girls who were in my daughter’s CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) group and other children who will not have their mother’s at their high school graduation, wedding, or birth of their children. I had my mom for all these milestones and more, but it still feels like it wasn’t enough. I was 38 when my mom died, and she was 59. It was 2 weeks before my birthday and about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. I have traveled for some of the Thanksgivings since her passing, I was pregnant one year, had a newborn the next, spent two with my Dad, but this year was extremely bittersweet.

This year my brother and his wife did a fabulous job hosting Thanksgiving! ODC had to work, so the Gs and I split up and rode to Delaware with my dad and my sister. My mom lived there until the second cancer diagnosis after which she came to GA. I lived in DC for about 9 years before moving to Georgia and made several trips across the Bay Bridge to see her. She worked as a CNA and constantly juggled her patients and runs to Target with me. Now that we are back in DC, the reality that she is no longer 90 miles away is sobering and going back to Delaware flooded my mind with melancholy thoughts. The house was filled with love and the laughter of children, but I still found myself fighting back tears during the day and secretly crying myself to sleep Thanksgiving night. My goodness, how can I ever pull it together to host Thanksgiving if even the sight of a can of cranberry sauce makes me tear up 🙂

I have so many wonderful memories of the holidays. I incredibly miss my grandparents and my mother, but I don’t want to remain in a place that I can’t make new memories with my family. It starts with my birthday; I fall into a funk and don’t really start feeling better until the winter is over. I don’t want to be a total Scrooge, and I want to be present for my family. As I scroll through my social media feeds and see so many happy people during this time of the year, especially the one’s with people and their mothers, I try to choose happiness, but sadness just keeps winning. I have so much to be thankful for, but my mind keeps falling back to what I’ve lost.

Memories are powerful and finding the joy in the holidays is not easy for everyone. Praying for God’s peace and love to restore my heart and the hearts of those who may be experiencing similar emotions during this time of year.

If you have struggled with grief during the holidays, what specific steps have you taken to manage it?



About offdachainandouttadabox

We are a married couple of 2 with 4 beautiful, smart children, who after 15 years of marriage have decided to join the blog world with a blog that will allow us to present what may be considered to many to be offdachainandouttadabox as it pertains to the areas of marriage, parenting, finances and health & wellness. The offdachain husband will also, against the wishes of his wife, (hence off the chain) post on other subjects from time to time.

21 responses »

    • Our relationship and friendship is one of the many evidences of God’s existence in my life. Whew….20008, a year of sorrow, but the birth of the development of a bond so strong between us. For that, I am incredibly blessed! Thanks for everything you continue to do to help my navigate the spiritual terrain of this earthly experience. xoxo I love you!!!!

  1. This is beautiful Dawn. I am praying for your peace as well. I lost my brother when he was 21 and I was 18. It’s been 9 years and the holidays still bring up some pain- I miss him and want him to experience what I am- but then it always hits me- that he is. 🙂 Love to you ❤

  2. This sorority of ours ain’t no crystal stair. This is one membership that has no privileges.

    It’s been fourteen months and some change since I lost my very own mother to the dreadful breast cancer and, though we understood the science, were given a “terminal” diagnosis and we knew “it” would happen, I remain stunned.

    If I said that I have the definitive answer on how to cope? I’d be lying like a rug. Like yours, my mama was exuberant, full of life and everyone’s best girl. When you lose a larger than life personality, the width and depth of the chasm seems as wide as the sea. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that I’m “right in the head” yet. The toll that my mother’s death has taken on me is tough to describe. My instinct has been to wallow. And I did/have/sometimes do but my faith has me to press forward. Here I am, out here, 40 years old with NO MAMA! THAT stings.

    But here’s the victory: I’m crying less, praying more and looking for Mama in the little things. I give myself the occasional permission to be angry, cry and still grieve. What I have also decided (and it was a conscious, sit-down conversation with ME) to do is to not slip any further into an abyss. Life has to be lived and Mama’s legacy must be perpetuated. THAT is what gives me strength.

    Your words are so familiar; I could have written them myself. I couldn’t help the tears that welled in my eyes.

    It is my prayer that your virtual plume and this space offers more healing. This post has been a blessing to me already. *grabs your hand* Us mamas’ girls must stick together through the holidays and beyond.

    • “When you lose a larger than life personality, the width and depth of the chasm seems as wide as the sea.” Your words were extremely moving and although I hate that we are in the ‘motherless daughters’ sorority, I find comfort in knowing that there are others that can relate to this incredible sense of loss. I will purpose to have my own conversation with myself, as well as increase my prayers. You are so right, “life has to be lived” and I owe it to myself, my family, and my mother’s memory to live life to the fullest. *squeezes your hand* 🙂

  3. While I don’t know the stinging loss of a mother, I do still drag a bit during the Christmas season because that’s when I lost the only grandmother I had ever known. I was 9. I’ve always been told that I have an old soul, and I think thst’s why we had such a special relationship.

    Our family had gone to Georgia to spend Christmas with my grandparents as we usually did. Days before our arrival, she had been hospitalized while doctors tried to determine why her arm had swelled. She died from an inoperable aortic tumor the day after Christmas. I was too young to visit her in the ICU and didn’t get to go to the funeral, either. It was like she just disappeared from my life.

    For years — probably 20 — I so dreaded the arrival of December 26th that I refused to go to sleep Christmas night. I figured my wakefulness would somehow suspend that date. Naturally, I was wrong.

    After two decades and lots of talks with God, I asked him to make the day bearable for me — fill it with laughter, sweet memories and pleasant distractions. He has, and the dark clouds have gone away.

    I will pray for God to grant you an extra portion of comfort during the holidays so you can fully enjoy the presence of His spirit and hers without sadness and tears.

    Peace and Love,

    • Thank you for your comment and sentiments Kim. Wow…Grandmothers….LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Grandmas!! I also was very close to my maternal grandmother, she was in my life until I was about 28. Experiencing such a loss at your age during the holidays, must have been very difficult. I can understand the dread of the date. I am so hopeful that my cries to God will soon be answered and that He will slowly remove the ‘dark clouds’ and joy will reign in my heart again. Love you Kim!

      • I know what you are dealing with and sometime it feels like you are unable to pull it together. Your lost was my lost also. The hole in my heart is still there and believe me I think of her often. The thing that keeps me together is knowing she is enjoying herself with her heavenly family and asking God to continue to bless her children. Look at G4.!! She is so proud as am I to see you and the rest of the family pull together and remember her and grand mom Benson. The way I see you and your brother and sister deal with everything in your busy life makes my head swim. I made a promise to JD and I’m not about to let her down. We will all keep her in our hearts and are better for her being in our lives. “We Are One”

      • Dad, thank you! You and I have had several conversations and you continue to bring me a sense of peace as I fight through this grief. Because so much of what I remember about mom involves you, I am usually on the brink of tears when we talk about her. My faith is definitely being stretched, thanks for being such a loving and patient father. I love you.

  4. Dawn, thank you soo much for sharing your testimony. I had no idea all that the holidays bring to you. Your words and moral of it all are so clear..clear enough for me to realize I have some growing up to do. Thanks again.

  5. Ahhh– your honesty and transparency are both so real and so painful. I can only hope the love you’re getting from your fan club in response gives you some comfort –no matter how temporary. Of all the things I feel and could say that are positive I mainly just think–this SUCKS and I hate it right along with you. Love you and thinking of you, your beautiful mom, and your family this holiday season.

  6. Dawn,
    Thank you for your transparency. My heart aches for you because I know how close you were to your mom. I’m the reverse, a mother missing her daughter. I won’t ever experience the joy of watching her grow up with her brother. Give yourself permission to miss your Mom during these times, then remind yourself you have an angel you know intimately,watching over you and it’s her. Take comfort in knowing you are a child of the most high God, you will be reunited. HUGS!
    Your sister in Christ

  7. Pingback: When “Best Man Holiday” Hits Home | Offdachainandouttadabox's Blog

  8. Such a beautiful and real post. I love you dearly and know your mother is smiling down on you during this winter and everyday o four life. She was remarkable and that is reflected through you.

  9. Pingback: Hello world! | www.mikecovin.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s