Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

“We will share the good news with my Mom when she gets home from the hospital,” I said to my husband as we were driving home from the ultrasound appointment to confirm my pregnancy.

For all of the nine years that my mother fought her battle with stage 4 colon cancer, she always came home from the hospital—always stronger than before. Despite the changes we all saw in my mother, and how much she was suffering, I was determined that she was going to come home again like all of the other times. Maybe not as strong as all of the other times, but she was going to come home. This time she was going to have the motivation of being Nonna to fight even harder.

However, God had a different plan.

The doctors pulled my family aside and told us that my mother could no longer breathe on the oxygen machine. At this point, hospice was the only positive option for my mom.

The traumatizing memories still seem foggy to me. All I can remember is the noise of the doctors and nurses talking to my family. I couldn’t hear actual words, just the noise of their voices fading in and out as I zoned out. I was in an actual nightmare, and I was in no condition to comprehend what was happening.

I felt like the walls were caving in and all I could think was we have to tell her. I gathered my emotions and with my trembling voice, I was able to share with my mother that I was pregnant. As painful as it already was, all I could see were the tears running down the side of her face.

The very next day after we saw the tiny little image of the beautiful life we were given, another life was taken. My mother passed away only hours after being transferred to hospice.

How was I going to be strong enough to carry a baby and grieve the loss of my mother?

There are still so many unanswered questions that I will ponder forever. But most importantly, how was I going to be a mother without my own mother?

Who is going to look at me when I’m feeling defeated about motherhood and simply tell me that I’m doing a great job?

When you become a mother for the first time, you realize that you need your own mother in a different way you never imagined before.

Grieving the loss of my mother during my first experience of motherhood has forced me to look at life differently. When I’m feeling down about not being able to see my mother simply hold my baby, I look a little deeper. I think of certain things that I could imagine her doing, and I do it.

My mom LOVED music and dancing—that’s how she was defined. So each time I am overwhelmed by those painful emotions, I pick up my little baby boy and dance around the living room with him in my arms listening to Mom’s favorite songs.

When I had to take my baby to his very first pediatrician appointment alone, my mom knows me well enough to know that I was flooded with anxiousness. She often would call me the “worry wart!” Only I would lose sleep over the thought of handling the car seat and driving around with a newborn. My mom found humor in these situations with me. She would giggle, as I would work myself up over every small detail. She laughed because she had all the confidence in me that I could do anything I put my mind to.

I wanted to pick up the phone that morning before I left for the appointment and just say, “Please come with me, Mom! I can’t do this alone without you!” I imagine that she would have giggled and said, “Oh come on Kris, you are FINE! You can do this!”

After I was driving home from my son’s successful pediatrician appointment, I wanted to speed dial my mom and laugh with her and say, “You were right Mom, I did it!”

I loved making her proud.

This was no surprise to her that I was able to gather the confidence to go out with my newborn for the first time. (New moms, I know you understand me—this is scary!) She was with me every step of the way because as soon as I got in the car, her favorite jam came on the radio. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to giggle or cry tears of joy the entire way home.

It’s in these simple moments, I slow down and look a little deeper—and I feel my mom’s presence.

It may not be the exact way I want it to be, but it is my way of accepting that she is still with me during motherhood—in an unfamiliar, different way.

This is what I like to call my new normal. I know I am not alone in these feelings. For those of you grieving this same loss, I can’t promise you that it will ever get easier. But I can promise that you will find a new normal. A new way of feeling your loved one’s presence.

They are with you every step of the way.

So, I circle back to that same question: how will I be strong enough to carry a baby and grieve the loss of my mother?

I can assure you I received my answer to this the day my son was born.

I was strong enough to endure this journey because my mom had undeniable strength that led me to carry on and honor her.

You may also like:

What it’s Like to Love a Motherless Daughter

A Letter to My Mom in Heaven

Only a Motherless Daughter Knows

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Kristina Marie Palomba

I joined motherhood for the first time about six weeks ago. So far, my motherhood journey has been beautiful and bittersweet, all at the same time. It has not been easy to experience this without my mother, who I just recently lost a few months ago. My hope is to inspire others through my journey and writing. 

6 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids Remember Their Grandparents

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Grandfather dances with granddaughter in kitchen

A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy. Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm. It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Ready for Life Without My Mom

In: Grief, Loss
Woman sad sitting by a window looking out

I’m not ready. Not ready for time to just keep trudging forward without her. Four years have gone by, and I still think about her every day. When that awful third day of October rules around every year it’s like a tidal wave comes and sweeps me up tossing me this way and that. The rest of the year I can bob up and down with the occasional waves of grief. But the week before October 3rd the waves pick up, and I can’t see over the crest of one before the next is already upon me. I find myself...

Keep Reading

Since She Left

In: Grief, Loss
Older, color photo of mother and young daughter blowing out birthday candles

It’s been 14 years since she left. It’s like a lifetime ago and yesterday at the same time. The loss of my mother was indescribable. We never had a traditional relationship. As I grew older, our roles were very much reversed, but even still, missing one’s mother (for lack of a better word) is hard . . . plain and simple. Sometimes I wonder, what is it exactly that I miss? Of course, I miss talking to her. I miss how she drove me crazy. I miss her baking. I miss hearing about her newest needlepoint. I miss when she...

Keep Reading

I Carried You for Just 17 Weeks but I’ll Hold You in My Heart Forever

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound image of baby in second trimester

September 11 will be a date that is forever etched in my heart, not only because of its historical significance but because it’s the day I saw your lifeless little body on the ultrasound screen. I couldn’t hold back the sobs. My chest suddenly felt heavier than a ton of bricks. I’ve been here before. I’ve had losses, but none this late. I didn’t feel their movements or hear so many strong heartbeats at my checkups. Your siblings felt you move and squealed with utter excitement. I want to wake from this nightmare, but it seems it’s my new reality....

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

To the Loss Mom Whose Tears Keep Her Company Tonight

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman sitting up in bed with head in hands

Three pregnancies in one year. Three first trimesters. Three moments of celebration . . . until they turned to moments of sorrow. I’m sure every woman who experiences pregnancy loss has the thought, “I never thought this would happen to me.” I truly never thought this would happen to me. I have two healthy boys—conceived easily, uncomplicated pregnancies, by-the-book deliveries. We even thought we were done having kids . . . until the pregnancy test was positive. That’s when my heart opened up to more children, and I realized I ached to carry more life. Raise more littles. Nurse more babies....

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading

Supporting the Grievers in the Aftermath of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Two people walking down tunnel with arms around each other

She was a devoted mother of two boys with her husband of 26 years.  With him, she owned a metallurgy company, ran a household, and in her spare time, produced tons of crafts by hand, most of which she sold. When her younger son was diagnosed with autism, she read everything she could find on the subject, volunteered, advocated for the autism community, and developed programs for autistic children. She spoke at the National Autism Conference and was co-authoring a book to help parents navigate an autism diagnosis. We marveled at her energy and enthusiasm. She was at every family...

Keep Reading

My Dad Remarried after My Mom Died, and as a Daughter It’s Bittersweet

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Older couple walking on beach holding hands

My dad ran off with a woman from California. When you put it like that, it sounds salacious and a faux pax, but the reality is a lot less interesting. My mom died of cancer at the cusp of my adulthood, leaving me and a gaggle of siblings behind. Six months later, my dad met a widow in California, connected with her, fell in love, and decided to move our family to California to be with her. Two years almost to the day after my mother died, my father married my stepmother. (I have photographic evidence of the event, I...

Keep Reading