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Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss [Paperback]

by Hope Edelman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 1995 0385314388 978-0385314381 1
In the tradition of Passages  and My Mother, My Self, this  unique, personal, and ground-breaking New  York Times best-seller -- the first of  its kind -- explores the profound pain of mother  loss among women and is available here for the  first time in paperback. "When my mother died,  I knew no woman my age who had experienced mother  loss. I felt utterly and irrevocably alone. In  college, where new friends knew only as much about  me as I was willing to reveal, I told few people  my mother had died. I searched the university  library and local bookstoresfor writings about  mother loss. In each book I found about  mother-daughter relationships, I quickly flipped ahead to the  chapter about a mother's death, but discovered  they all assumed the reader would be in her forties  or fifties when her mother dies. I was eighteen."  --excerpt from Motherless  Daughters.

Not only for motherless  daughters, but for all women who want to better  understand the mother/daughter relationship, this  beautifully written work inspired an Anna  Quindlen column; appeared in the New York Times, Ingram,  Barnes & Noble, and San Francisco best-seller  lists; and received an extraordinary amount of  media attention including a feature on The Today  Show. Hope Edelman lost her mother to breast cancer  when she was eighteen. Unable to find a book to  help her understand and cope with that loss, she  decided to write her own. She posted notices  asking motherless women to share their experiences  with her, and was unprepared for both the number of  responses she received, and for their emotional  intensity. Eventually meeting with 92 women and  surveying 154 by mail, Hope was able to compare how  mother loss affects daughters differently  depending on their ages, their relationships to their  mothers, their father's attitude, and the support  or dependency of siblings. But more important  Hope's book explores what these women share -- a void  in their lives they cannot seem to fill. Their  common experiences and insights will help  motherless daughters, and those who care about them, come  to better understand how this painful loss shapes  lives forever.

Editorial Reviews Review

Edelman shares her own painful story and the stories of many other women who, as children or adults, lost their mothers. She explains the stages of grief and adjustment. She considers the secondary effects that can occur: the girl-child filling the lost mother's role at home for father and younger siblings. If you've lost your mother, you no longer have to face it alone. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The death of a mother--particularly during one's young years--is traumatic. Writing of her own experiences of losing her mother when she was 17, and the grief of hundreds of women she interviewed who lost their mothers through death, abandonment or another form of separation, freelance writer Edelman marshals a wealth of anecdotal evidence, supplemented with psychological research about bereavement, that indicates that one's longing for a mother never disappears. Though the focus is on early loss for girls and the implications for their developing identity, adult daughters also speak in these pages to provide another poignant perspective. The author succeeds in opening up cathartic dialogues, personalizing a life-changing event and offering guidelines to help women of any age live with their loss. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; 1 edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385314388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385314381
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #909,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hope Edelman is the internationally acclaimed author of six nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and the memoir The Possibility of Everything, as well as the recent ebook, Boys Like That. She has lectured widely on the subjects of early mother loss and nonfiction writing in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.A.E. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, Seventeen, Real Simple, Parents, Writer's Digest, and Self, and her original essays have appeared in many anthologies, including The Bitch in the House, Behind the Bedroom Door, and Goodbye to All That. Her work has received a New York Times notable book of the year designation and a Pushcart Prize for creative nonfiction. She can be found in Iowa City every July teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. The rest of the year, she lives in Topanga Canyon, California, with her husband and their two daughters, and teaches in the MFA program at Antioch University-LA.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
153 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps with Healing July 27, 2000
I lost my mother to cancer when I was sixteen years old. When I went back to school after the funeral, I think I did what alot of girls do, I acted like I was fine, because I didn't want anyone to know what was going on inside of me. This lasted for a couple of years, and during my first year of college, my father bought me this book. I kept it unread in a drawer for a long time, I didn't want to deal with my moms death. She was my best friend, and I couldn't accept that she was gone. Finally, I picked up the book and began to read. I was only a few pages in, when I began to cry like I hadn't since the night she died. It was hard for me to read the book, but I did, a few pages at a time, over a couple of weeks. I never realized that while other girls lose their mother under different circumstances, there are still things that are similar, and bind all of we "motherless daughters" together. This book helped in ways I can't even begin to describe. It gave me someone to relate to (none of my friends had ever lost a parent). I highly recommend this book to anyone who has lost their mother, no matter how old you were, or how long ago it happened. It helped me face my pain, and work through it, like nothing else could. I know it is difficult to deal with, but Hope Edelman's book really helps make a tragic situation, a bit easier to cope with.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatment of a very personal situation November 8, 2000
I lost my mother when I was just 13 years old and although it's been 16 years, I still feel the loss every day. Like the author, I had an overwhelming sense of grief in my mid-twenties. I mean it was like I was newly bereaved again. I would come home and cry. Or I would dream about her for consecutive nights. I am so glad that Ms. Edelmen took on this topic. Intellectually, I knew that I wasn't alone, but I am the only one in my immediate circle of friends whose mother is deceased so that makes for awkward moments on Mother's day and other holidays. Of course the sympathetic ones want to be a sort of replacement, but that's not what I want. I want my actual mother, my nurturer and my friend. It's so hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced this loss, especially since I am an adult now. I remember that shortly after mom passed some callous relative actually had the nerve to tell me, "Life goes on." As if I didn't know that already. As if it were that simple.
Thank you Hope, for helping us motherless daughters understand that the impact of this loss can be lifelong. I've long suspected that the absence of my mother has affected my intimate relationships and even my relationships with other females. It's one thing to feel something intuitively and quite another to see that someone else has not only felt that same way, but has researched it. I'm still reading this book, but I felt so strongly about it that offer up my heartfelt thanks right now. This book is a blessing, and not just for daughter whose mothers are deceased. Hope also addresses women who have been abandoned ny their mothers and those who have never known their mothers.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's okay to grieve January 6, 2000
I am 24 and lost my mother two months ago. I have been feeling a deep sense of emptiness and have come to the conclusion that in general, the world seems to overlook the pain of parent loss. It's said to be a natural cycle of life, however, when you're young, there's nothing natural about it. I just happened across this book as I was browsing in a book store, and can honestly say that it has not only given me permission to grieve deeply, but it has validated many of my feelings of loss. As the world tends to tell you to "get on with your life," or "stop playing the victim," this book encourages people to aknowledge that mother loss is indeed a profound loss, and one that can affect a person for a long time. Accepting the painfulness of a loss and feeling grief is not playing the victim role, it's simply being human. As I watched the world respond to my mother's death, the outpouring for my father was tremendous and in many ways my sister and I stood in the background and observed this. This book confirmed that it's no wonder mother loss is so painful, it's the first relationship one ever experiences and once it's gone there is no substition, no new parent. My father may remarry, but my sister and I will never have another mother. Through this book I have been able to allow myself to grieve deeply and understand that my loss is not more, and certainly not less than anyone elses, just different.
The biggest thing I learned from reading this book was that it's important to face the grief and saddness head-on It has to be dealt with at some point and the sooner the better. I am so glad that someone was able validate and address the pain surrounding mother loss at not only a younger age, but at any age.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully Beautiful March 4, 2008
This book did what 34 years of therapy with expensive and highly degreed therapists could not do. I lost my mother emotionally at the age of 12. While this book starts out addressing the physical death of a mother, it very well includes all kinds of losses that damage the mother-daughter relationship. My mother went from a warm, loving, nurturing parent who baked all the time and kept a clean house to a paranoid, delusional,slovenly woman who was never home, and who was physically abusive when she was; a woman who could not criticize me deeply and thoroughly enough. There were probably lots of reasons for that, none of them having anything to do with me. But at 12, how was I to know? I just thought she didn't love me anymore. I could not please her. At 16, I stopped trying, ran away from home and learned how to live on the streets.

This loss colored my life for the rest of my life, and it took every ounce of strength, energy and intellect to untangle the mess. This book shed some very crucial light on the deepest wound my soul carries. I know a closeness with my mother because of that painful bond that is a combination of pleasure and pain that is part and parcel of who I am. Today, thanks to Hope Edelman, I understand that bond (and the bond I have with my daughter)so much better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever
Ever since I lost my mother, I have read from this book for 25 years. I readf a story here and there and I bond with someone who feels the pain and loss of no longer having our... Read more
Published 6 days ago by maryann casino
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisely shared and heartfelt...I saw myself in its pages.
Even decades after losing my mother to cancer when I was a teenager, I could be found in book stores searching for answers to help me understand who I was, knowing always that I... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Susan Brougher
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, practical, thoughtful and honest.
Invaluable, makes you feel a little less alone, a great source of comfort, inspiration and knowledge. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Laura
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard read
This was an extremely hard read, even though my mother has been gone for two decades. I cried and cried, but it also helped me realize so many feelings I have had are normal, or... Read more
Published 1 month ago by lynn m plummer
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Daughers, like myself
Good book to help you deal with the loss of that special mother for all moms, in my opinion, who gave new life are special.
Published 1 month ago by Joan Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST READ for any females who've lost their mother
This book has helped me tremendously. I've owned it for 20+ yrs and still read it today. If you have lost your mother (no matter what your age) or you know someone who has - read... Read more
Published 1 month ago by anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars Motherless daughters
I'm not the only one! Love this book, I can't say enough about it but if your a motherless daughter you will understand.
Published 2 months ago by Amy Colling
5.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFUL & HELPFUL BOOK
I lost my mom when I was 14 and was given this book by a friend about 10 years ago. I've since bought it for other women. It doesn't matter how old you were when your mom died. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Evan Cummings
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best things that a woman can do for herself and/or...
When my mother passed away I was over 40 years old with 3 children, etc. Also having lost my father I wondered why my heart was breaking and why at this age I felt like such an... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Muriel L. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding.
Just up front - my mother isn't dead. But she left us when I was 11. Completely. New life in a new country. So entirely unavailable to me, for the rest of my life. Read more
Published 3 months ago by bodysoluble
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Loss of mother due to psychological abandonment/lack of attatchment
My mother abandoned my sister and me when I was 4 and my sister was 10. We did see her some throughout childhood but she was an alcoholic and I feel pretty certain had a personality disorder. Five years ago she had a stroke and is now in a nursing home, no longer able to talk well enough to... Read more
Dec 19, 2009 by T. Billmann |  See all 2 posts
being a trained EMT and performing C.P.R on your own mom! Be the first to reply
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