Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Always a daughter

Posted July 25, 2010

Recently, a friend of mine lost her father after a long illness. She described his last weeks with bittersweet joy as she and her siblings had the privilege of spending precious last moments with him. During that time, he shared with them the reasons he was so proud of them and his dreams for their futures. In the final day that my friend shared with him before his death, he could no longer speak. She turned to him one last time before she left the room telling him she and her family loved him so much. He mouthed two simple words-"I know."

As she told me this story, tears welled up in my eyes. I was sitting in a beautiful setting, the edge of a dock overlooking a calm bay on a perfect July morning. I could hear my daughters and my own father in the background on the deck above me, laughing, running, and joking around. It made me think about how even though we are mothers, we were daughters first. No matter how old we get, we will always be daughters.

My friend went on to describe her range of emotions over her father's death, the issue of helping her mother transition into her new life without a partner, and the logistical details of handling someone's estate. Amidst her father's story were the details surrounding her world - taking her children to camp, getting back to work, back to her home, her husband, her life.

It occurred to me that adults are simply expected to "buck up" when a parent dies, and get back to their routines. Yet, in some ways, losing a parent as an adult is even harder because of the years you have spent with this person, in addition to the responsibility of becoming the primary caretaker to a widowed parent. Most companies, for example, offer only a few days of bereavement, when the pain, loss and responsibility of a parent passing can extend for months, or even years.

In addition, most daughters, whether they work or not, whether they have children or not, are expected to attend to an ailing parent. My friend, for example, lived six hours from her father, yet spent every weekend by his bedside in his final weeks. I know women who have dropped out of their daily lives, left their jobs, their families, and their homes for extended periods of time to be with a parent who is seriously ill. Historically, this is a calling for women who by nature take on the role of nurturing all members of their family.

So, in the end, even mothers are someone's daughter. And daughters, whether they are ten, 20 or 40, need time and space to grieve the loss of a parent.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here on Mondays.


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  • bgb Jul 26, 2010

    Amanda,I lost my dad when I was 2 very young don't remember alot.I lost my mother 12 years ago she was my best friend,my son was 6 months old at the time when she passed away but I talk about her all the time to him and , some of the things that comes out of my mouth it is haunting it sounds just like something she use to say to me.

  • angelasullivan9 Jul 26, 2010

    Amanda I lost my father Sept 09 It was sudden so I say each time you leave your daddy make sure he knows you love him! Each day is still hard for me I have a 3 year old that asks for his pa each day. I was 38 when I got pregnant and I asked God why now? When I lost my daddy I know why know? He has my daddy's eyes and alot of his ways so I can see my daddy in him everyday.

  • LMRA Jul 26, 2010

    Amanda - my Father is almost 83, seriously ill and in the hospital as I type this. The timing of this story is uncanny. I have been trying to spend as much time with him as possible. I don't have children and I'm not married so I can make the three hour round-trip often. I am the oldest and single which, to me, makes it even more important that I be there. I love him very much - we have always been close - and when he passes it will be devastating. I 'think' I'm prepared but how can I ever be ready for the inevitable???

    Thanks again - your timing is perfect!

  • podickerson Jul 26, 2010

    I so understood this; I was with my dad his final hours. He was my world and I felt so honored that I could take care of him and my mother, who is still alive. He has been gone five years now and I think of him often.

  • lynne1931 Jul 26, 2010

    Thank you for expressing the feelings of so many hurting daughters/sons that have just recently lost a parent. No matter how old a child is, losing a parent hurts.

  • bjgupton Jul 26, 2010

    Thank you for expressing the feelings of so many daughters!

  • takenly Jul 26, 2010

    "A son is a son til he takes him a wife, but a daughter's a daughter for all of her life." My mother has four boys and really needs a daughter at this stage of her life.

  • Amomoftwo Jul 25, 2010

    This was a beautifully written piece....I hope your friend realizes that you have, in a special way, honored her and her dad by sharing their story. I sat by my dad in his final hours and know the heartfelt pain that does continue for many years when a parent is gone. Thanks again for articulating those feelings so well.

  • joshearin Jul 25, 2010

    Well said. You have realized what many well meaning do not, until they have experienced the the grief of losing a parent first hand.