Bereavement laid bare for daughters in mourning

Edited by Rosa Ainley.



ISBN 0 04 440928 1

Bereavement literature usually concentrates on common reactions
to death, stages of grief, widowhood, and how people recover from
loss. This find book is different. It is a startling collection of
short essays and poems by daughters, describing their thoughts
after their mothers died.

In beautiful prose and poetry the 28 contributors pour out the
complex, angry, loving, puzzling and conflicting relationships that
exist between mothers and daughters everywhere.

I read this deeply moving book on the thirteenth anniversary of
my mother’s death. She died of peritonitis, age 76, in a Cornwall
hospital where the staff decided not to treat her because she had
Alzheimer’s disease.

My sister and I were not consulted about the decision, which was
taken regardless of the fact she lived happily at home with me. We
sat horrified at her beside for four days and nights until she
died. I still have the files of letters I wrote to the health
authority questioning their policy on euthanasia. It was a
rook-laden sky the morning she died, and the knowledge of her death
was overwhelming.

After our mothers die, there often begins a learning about them
and about ourselves. Some of the pieces in this book suggest that
when they are dead we crave to know them as people, rather than as
our mothers who could be alternatively loved and blamed. We may
sometimes look in a mirror or hear ourselves talking, and suddenly
realise how much we resemble them; we recognise for the first time
our own frailties our mortality.

The saddest stories in the book are undoubtably those by
daughters who were victims of child care services because their
mothers died young or were considered unfit to care for their

This sensitive and important book should be read by everybody
interested in bereavement, family life, and in daughters’
relationships with their mothers.

Maureen Oswin is a writer and researcher whose most
recently published book is Am I Allowed to Cry?

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.