First Mother’s Day After Losing Her to Alzheimer’s

Close up of spring flowers.

She is everywhere.

For most of our years together, we joked about her seeming ability to transcend time and space. All-seeing, all-knowing, ever-present, and always watching….

The laughter did us good and served up some of our most unguarded moments. The laughs did what dogma couldn’t. It brought humanity to the Venn diagrams of our lives.

This weekend I remembered some of our laughter, even in her final days, and could not contain the stuff that needed the light of day. Some of my stuff rolled down my cheeks this weekend as the country celebrated Mother’s.

I cried.

Not just because I miss her, though I do. Not just because it feels odd to not hear her voice every day or so on the telephone, not only for the memories I have of our years together, and not only for the vastly divergent worldviews we possessed.

I cried for the whole woman who now resides in the memories of the hundred or so people at her funeral. I cried a bit out of respect for her life, independent of mine, for her friends, passions, accomplishments, joys, and fears. I cried for muddy ground at her graveside and for my Dad, weak from life and caring, standing at attention as the Doxology cracked the mist and her casket was lowered to its place of rest.

And when I stopped crying, I reached for a book.

If you’ve lost the chief woman in your life, you may find, as have I, reflections from others who share the loss as helpful.

Here’s what I found inside “Grieving the Death of a Mother” by Harold Ivan Smith

Losing a mother is a deeply personal and transformative experience. From the moment we come into this world, our mothers envelop us in love unlike any other. It is a love that nurtures, supports, and shapes us into the individuals we become. My mother was a source of strength and comfort through life’s ups and downs.

Navigating the Challenges of Alzheimer’s:

My mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease presented its own unique set of challenges. Alzheimer’s robbed her of her memories and abilities, but it could never take away her imprint on my heart. Witnessing her vibrant spirit slowly fading was a heart-wrenching journey filled with grief and resilience.

The Complexity of Grief:

Grief is a complex emotion, and losing a mother amplifies its intensity. The void left by her absence is vast. I am learning that grief is not a linear path; it ebbs and flows, with unexpected waves of sorrow when I least expect it. And ditto with the laughter.  

Cherishing the Memories:

Although Alzheimer’s stole chunks of memories from my mother, I hold on to the moments we shared before the disease took hold. In these memories, I find a sense of connection to her spirit. Sharing stories with loved ones, reminiscing about her, and celebrating her life help to keep her memory alive.

Honoring Her Legacy:

While my mother is longer physically present, her legacy lives on. I honor her memory by embracing her values, nurturing the relationships she cherished, and carrying forward her wisdom. I find comfort in knowing that her love continues to guide me.

Finding Support During Loss:

Navigating grief can be an isolating experience, but I am not alone. I texted my sister Sunday, stating that “I miss her.” A three-word reply was oddly healing. “So do I,” came the answer. Innocuous enough but, in the moment, a profound moment of connection.

Embracing Self-Compassion:

Grief can come with guilt, regret, and a sense of “what could have been.” As tempting as that path has been (my relationship with my mom wasn’t always drawn from a preferred script of my creating), I mostly avoid it. The temptation is there, and I continue to resist.


Losing my mother to Alzheimer’s has changed me. It’s a quiet shift, but it’s there.  

I will undoubtedly cry from time to time over a random memory of her. In the shadow of Mother’s Day 2023, I’ve decided to frame those tears as individual recollections of the woman who gave me life.

To all those who have lost their mothers, whether to Alzheimer’s, illness, or the natural course of life, I stand beside you in this way of life and grief. We have much living to do. Let’s do something good in this world and know we’re encouraged in the effort by our moms, wherever they are.

Complimentary Coaching Conversation

After a public shaming over a business mistake, I lost everything. Over the next four years, I fought my way back to hope, joy, and a vision for the future. Today, my mission is to help others who, just like me, had been knocked to the ground by personal or professional failure.

Each month, I create a handful of opportunities to show up for hurting individuals who are serious about radically changing their life. I provide judgment-free conversation that helps you stop feeling like a failure.

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