Losing a mother can certainly have a profound effect on your life. Even as adults, we still need the presence of our parents from time to time.

The psychological effects of losing a mother in childhood differ from losing a mother when you’re an adult.

As a child, losing either parent can be devastating and cause great trauma throughout life. As an adult, it’s unfortunate to lose a parent, but it’s much easier to handle, for most people. But this doesn’t mean that there won’t be effects on your mental health stemming from this loss.

Before we look at the psychological effects of losing a mother, let’s take a look at the stages of grieving. Many of us learn about this in school, but there could be a few people who’ve never heard of these stages before.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Psychological effects of losing a mother

Now, with this basic knowledge of the stages of grief, you can better understand some of the psychological effects I will mention below. It’s important to note that the natural grieving process means moving through the stages and into acceptance.

There is no time limit on reaching integrated grief or acceptance, but there are different ideas on what’s healthy and unhealthy. Here are some of the psychological things you may experience when you lose your mother.

1. Increased risk of depression

Losing a mother can cause an increased risk of depression. And if you already suffer from depression, this life event can exacerbate your negative symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of depression include sleep problems, lethargy, and frequent crying. A death in the family this pronounced can also cause increased dissociation related to depression.

2. Prolonged Grief Disorder

Normal grief when losing a mother has a process, as I stated above. It often transforms from symptoms of crying and sleeplessness (acute grief) into acceptance (integrated grief), which is the last stage of grieving.

However, some effects show signs of being stuck in acute distress, somewhere between denial and bargaining. The adult child becomes fixated on the deceased loved one. In this state, you may suffer from poor sleep, no life interest, and emptiness. This state can also affect relationships, causing isolation.

3. Increased anxiety about aging

When adult children witness the death of a mother, it can remind them of their own mortality. This reminder, while basically normal, can become an obsession that leads to anxiety.

If you’ve lost your mother recently, you may be experiencing anxiety about your physical health, especially things related to the natural aging process. While you may turn to more physical activity to improve your health, you may also find yourself drowning in anxious thoughts about your own death.

While death comes for us all, it’s important to live life to the fullest. It’s important to notice the signs of existential anxiety as soon as possible.

4. Substance abuse

It seems that substance abuse can result from various life experiences. And in the case of losing a parent, it’s familiar. Losing a mother can be overwhelming, even to the point of psychological distress.

Grief doesn’t just go away quickly, and you might try to “drown your sorrows” in alcohol–sometimes people see drugs as a quick fix as well. And binge drinking is dangerous to you and others. This is why it’s important to seek help after losing a parent if you’re already a drinker.

5. Decline in self-esteem

When grief hits, your emotional stability is shattered, at least temporarily. And when your emotions are out of control, you can misplace your sense of self for a while.

This negatively affects your self-esteem because you are confused about who you are, considering you have no control over your emotions. After the loss of a mother, a dramatic decline of self-worth can occur before you even realize what’s happened.

6. Feelings of displacement

After losing a mother, some people feel completely displaced in society. This usually occurs if you were extremely close to your mother or still living at home. If the loss was sudden, this feeling of displacement can be quite severe.

To make things more complicated, this feeling can last for weeks, even months. In rare cases, you can become stuck in this emotion. It’s so important to seek professional help if you’re having problems reintegrating into society after the death of a loved one.

Life and death: a natural process

We are born and so we will also die. No one lives forever. Yes, it seems silly to say that, but many people struggle with the idea of mortality, much more when they lose a close loved one.

There are many psychological effects of losing a mother, and these are just a few of them. The loss of a loved one is intense and sometimes brings out hidden parts of us. It’s important to remember that if any emotions become too strong to handle, we should reach out for help.

Together, we can navigate this life, this ever-changing existence. Together, we can find the peace and strength to pursue our goals and dreams. Never give up!


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Aleksandra

    Than you Sherrie. I rarely find texts with this thematic. Im 52, psychologist with international education for psychotherapy. Maybe it helped me a lot when I lost parents in short period of time. Sleep is gone (managening it with medication), Im anxious since Corona, and somehow I got Diabetes, and Im fighting wit this conditions well, I think. Moments when I fell in some kind of regression is when Im alone or have some money problems or having some problems with husband. Everytime I woke from sleep in the middle of the night I realise that i was deaming about my mother. I feel afraid, or sorrow…everytime I get upset. Once I have read that people who had ambivalent relations with passed parent grief longer. Questions about our relations emerged 10 years after they passed away. Then I remembered how thy didnt want me, how she tried abortion, how my brother was always nice…And they left almost everything to my brother. I struggle with money, we live in poor country, and lack of money is the trigger for grief, sorrow and questions. I am aware that I need extra therapy in the moment, but i cant aford it.
    Please, write something that can help me to stop ruminating.
    Aleksandra

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    I am so grateful that you wrote this comment. My mother is gone too. I lost her when I was 25. In fact, both my parents are gone. I, too, had questions about why my mother and father did certain things or did not do certain things to and for me. My childhood was traumatic for many reasons. And, there are times when I look at their pictures and as I am feeling love, there is a block. I know why there is this block, and it’s because I have so many questions that were never answered. But I love them and miss them much more than this block that I stumble over from time to time. I wish they were here, regardless of what they did or did not do. I know that they were imperfect, just like me. Are there toxic parents out there? Sure. But, I think mine did the best that they thought they could if that makes sense.

    I will do some thinking about what you said…ruminating about the past. I need another post about such things as I ruminate quite a bit. I have an adult son now who deals with all his own issues and my past imperfections as a mother. So, I am looking back and forward, wondering what my path will be.

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