Women who have lost their mothers through death, illness, separation or abandonment in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood often come into therapy describing a sense that an essential part of themselves is missing, that they feel an emptiness inside, a longing for a nurturing mom, and a desire to understand how to navigate through life as a motherless daughter. In early mother loss, a woman may feel that she's missed the tools to know how to function in the world, or to know what being a woman is all about. A woman who loses her mother in adulthood can feel devastated in losing her "best friend". As with other losses and traumas, motherless daughters may have difficulty with intimacy and trust, longing for an idealized relationship with someone who is nurturing and always available, finding herself disappointed when these expectations aren't met. Motherless daughters might strive to become "super-achievers" with an "I can do it all myself!" motto, even with the discomfort and limitations this brings. Or, motherless daughters may comply with others, putting their needs last, distrusting their own senses while having a great sensitivity for rejection. Many women who have lost their mothers also report that a part of themselves feels the age they were when their mothers died. Many find that they have unconsciously carried an inaccurate belief of not surviving beyond the age of their mothers when she died or that something "bad" could happen to their loved ones. Living past the age at which one's mother died has been reported by women to seem like moving into "uncharted territory" . Motherless Daughters also disclose their appreciation of life and its momentary treasures, not taking for granted what others their age may who have not experienced a major loss. The process of loss and grief may include the following: 1)shock and disbelief; 2)anger; 3)depression; 4)denial; 5) bargaining ("What could I have done differently that could have resulted in my mother still living or providing adequate mothering?) and 6)acceptance in understanding the consequences of mother loss and integrating it into one's life. These feelings may come like waves, and do not follow a predictable pattern or progression. Certain events in one's life trigger feelings and thoughts regarding the loss of a woman's mother or mother substitute. At one's own pace, one can become aware of and understand many feelings and thoughts related to mother loss, and gain relief from them. As with all life-transforming events, individual strengths emerge from pain and obstacles. Motherless daughters often find they gain a deepened appreciation for and sensitivity toward themselves, others, and the basic experiences of life and death and that in their own healing process the "emptiness" inside fills with warmth.
For women who have lost their mothers through death, illness, abandonment, or separation in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, I offer individual sessions, in office or by phone, and on-going psychodynamic, exploratory support groups. Women sometimes choose to attend group or individual sessions, or both, based on individual need. My first consideration is to provide a safe environment with attention to your individual needs, concerns, and goals.
Motherless Daughters Support Groups meet every other week in my San Anselmo and Forest Knolls, Marin County, offices. I have facilitated successful, on-going psychodynamic Motherless Daughters Support Groups for 14 years in Mill Valley, prior to relocating. Facilitating the Motherless Daughters Group is a deeply valued and enriching collaborative experience in which you can know you are not alone in your struggles and "normal" responses to loss and trauma. It is also an opportunity to gain mutual support with others who have not only survived but thrived through difficult and painful circumstances. It is a safe place to grieve the profound loss or emptiness you may feel inside. Group experience can be a powerful way to facilitate understanding and healing, gain validation, make connections between past and current patterns and beliefs, identify ways to make beneficial changes, and integrate your mother loss into your current life. Issues women address include: loss and trauma; intimate relationships; family of origin experience; common inaccurate, self-limiting beliefs and their disconfirmation; surviving mother's illness; dads; step-mothers; motherless mothers; mothering onself; unresolved longings; self-identity; successes; personal goals.