Motherless Daughters Essay, Research Paper
Imagine being a young girl who doesn t have a care in the world. Suddenly, the young girl s whole life changes when she finds that her mother has a terminal illness. The girl s mother must face months of treatment that leaves her sick most of the time. Despite the treatment, her mother passes away leaving the young girl motherless at the age of ten. In the book, Motherless Daughters: A Legacy of Loss, Hope Edelman explores the effects women experience when they lose their mothers.
This book is based on interviews with many mother-loss survivors. The author also discusses her own experiences with losing her mother. She discusses how a woman s identity is shaped when she she grows up in the absence of her mother and how present day relationships are defined by past losses. The author also gives an understanding of grief and how one is affected by it.
The loss of a mother is significant to any child, but especially in a woman s life. A child may go through the grieving process for years following the loss of the mother. This process is not predictable, and many women think they are over the grieving until faced with a major event in their lives. This may cause her to grieve all over again. Examples of when this may happen include planning a marriage, a birth or a new job. The author discussed how she much she missed her mother in the book. She missed her mother, terribly, when I graduated from college. I missed her when I got my first job promotion (23). Edelman lost her mother at the age of seventeen. She has found that it has also been difficult to be close to the age her mother died and to realize just how young she was when she died. Another difficult thing Edelman has faced was having trouble remembering how her mother was prior to becoming ill. Most of her memories are related to the hair loss, weight gain and stress of her mother s illness (278).
The author also discussed the differences in how one reacts according to the age the child was at the death of the mother. There are significant differences in how a younger child would react in comparison with older children. Children who are six years of age or younger usually do not understand death. The child too young to have the ability to miss someone will grow up with little sense of connection to their mother. These young children are totally dependent on adult care, so it is best if the child has another adult with whom to make an attachment(35).
Children between the ages of six and twelve are said to have the hardest time coping with the death of a parent. These children are old enough to understand what has happened but do not know how to manage the emotion of the grief process. Children in this age group often try to avoid talking about what has happened and resort to fantasies of the parent s return.
The death of a parent, especially the mother can be really difficult for the adolescent. There is often much turmoil within the normal teen. If the mother is lost during this time, the normal developmental tasks can be severely disrupted or halted. A sense of self can be lost or affected by a loss during these years.
When a young woman in her twenties loses her mother, she is often very frustrated and confused. She may have a job and family of her own and may feel she doesn t need her mother anymore. She may also find that she needs and relies on her mother s encouragement and misses the time of sharing with her mother.
Although it is assumed that women in the later years are better able to accept the mother s death, the author found that is not the case. Women have a hard time accepting the finality of losing their mother, no matter their age. The author uses several stories of women who lost their mothers at different ages to illustrate these points.
Although I have had little personal experience on this subject, I found it difficult to read this book. The stories used to illustrate the author s points were upsetting to me. I found myself thinking of what it would be like if I lost my mother at this point in my life. Because I still look to my mother for guidance and encouragement, I found that I would have trouble coping with her death. I am in the process of looking for a job and planning a wedding. I would miss sharing this and the other big and little events of my life with my mother. My mother is such an important part of my life that I cannot imagine not having her here.
I do remember when my grandmothers lost their mothers. Although their mothers were quite elderly and in poor health, they still missed them a lot after they were gone. They were used to helping them with all kinds of things and having them to talk to, so it was hard for my grandmothers to lose their mothers. They still occasionally mention how much they miss having their mothers around.
Although I enjoyed reading the stories Hope Edelman used in Motherless Daughters, it seemed that she did not have much solid evidence to back up her theories about how one is affected by losing one s mother. The stories told supported her ideas, but there were no scientific studies cited to support them.
While the author focused on how the loss affected women, it seems that men are affected in the same ways. The problems a woman has with the loss of her mother are not unique to her gender alone. An example of this would be when one chooses to not deal with the loss by not talking about it. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away is common to both genders and is not unique to motherless daughters.
The book is a good resource for those who have lost their mother. The stories make it easy to relate to the feelings others have had in the same type of situation. In my case, reading this book made me think about how fortunate I am to still have my mother. In conclusion, the subject matter in this book is difficult to deal with. One does not want to think about the loss of one s mother. There is supportive information for those that need it, but would be better if it addressed both genders and provided more scientific background. If one experiences this kind of loss, this book is a good resource for support.