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Motherless Daughters

The Legacy of Loss

By Hope Edelman

Hardcover, Addison-Wesley, May 1994, ISBN: 0201632888
Paperback, Delta, May 1995, ISBN: 0385314388


In this New York Times bestseller Edelman shows how losing a mother through death or desertion at any age has ramifications throughout a woman's life. She tells her own painful story and interweaves it with those of many other women who lost their mothers both as children and as adults.

Many women who lived through this experience emotionally alone became extremely independent and resilient. Examples include Rosie O'Donnell, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Eliot, Dorothy Parker, and Madonna. In this work however the special vulnerability of growing up without your mother is finally discussed with cathartic results.

Edelman's was seventeen when her mother died of breast cancer. The author was left to cope with a grief-stricken father and younger siblings as well as her own feelings. Although she left for college the following yearand later led an adventurous, independent life as a journalist,she discovered one day when she was twenty-four that she missed her motherso much that she was in physical pain.

Even when grief is adequately expressed and the remaining familymembers are supportive and loving, motherless women may findthemselves longing for the lost parent at critical junctures intheir lives. Daughters tend to anticipate death at the same age as their mothers' demise, and tricks of memory may turn the lost mother into a paragon or a wicked witch. Adult relationships may be affected due to unrecognized anger and fear of further abandonment.

Mother loss will affects a daughter differently depending on her age, her relationship with her mother, her father's attitude and presence, and the support or dependency of siblings. Because Edelman lost her mother as a teenager she tends to concentrate on these years in her analysis.

This book also would be a good read for anyone who is close to a motherless woman who would like to learn more about what makes her tick.

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