Without your mum on Mothers Day

This is a guest post by Leigh Van Der Horst, author of without my Mum

Leigh sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me about the release of her new book without my Mum.  She didn’t realise that I had also lost my mum a few years ago, suddenly to a brain tumor, so this really book really touched my heart. My Mum is in my thoughts everyday but my heart aches around this time of year with Mothers Day approaching.  It’s hard not having a mother for guidance and having her fuss over my kids. In the book Leigh share her inspiring story of coping with motherhood after losing her mum.  This is a lovely post and exactly what I needed to read, over to Leigh….


Mothers Day is a tough one without a mum to spoil. I lost my mother to cancer in 2008. I was 32 years old and had 3 young sons who adored her. It devastated me to say the least. I loved my mother immensely. She was my best friend. As a young girl I would always sit at her feet as she knitted. As long as I was close to my mum I felt safe. I smothered her in adoration on Mothers Day, as I knew how special she was. I will never forget my first Mothers Day without her. It was torture. It was a very long day and I just wished the minutes away. My husband and my boys were so beautiful, making sure that I felt special and giving me hugs all day long but the lump in my throat grew larger and larger as the day wore on and I only felt relief when it was over and I no longer had to feel that gaping void of not having a mum to celebrate.

It’s now six years down the track and I still struggle. It certainly is not as hard to see out the day as it was years ago but I do still carry a heavy burden with me each year. The lead up guarantees an array of emotions within me. Often I don’t even realise that my moods are so unstable. It’s something that I have no control over. This build up results in a good cry sometime during Mothers Day itself and by the end of it all, I’m exhausted, apologetic and again, relieved that it is over.


For me, distraction is a wonderful thing to try and keep a smile on my face. I have to enjoy the day for my boys. I am their mum and they have every right to spoil me, as I did my mother. Usually the day is action packed with no time to sit still and dwell. I did attempt to lay low one Mothers Day in recent years but I think it is safe to say that after the grilling my poor husband got, he will happily support our high activity traditions from this point on.


There is no right or wrong way to deal with days like these when you deeply miss someone you love. I have come to realise that I just have to accept the unreliable wave of emotion and I also have to be kinder to myself at certain times of the year. The beautiful thing is, as time passes, we do become stronger and our hearts do heal and each year brings with it more happiness. I honour my mum each year but not just on Mothers Day, I do this every day. Although I can’t see her, she is with me and I am certain she is sitting back, with a huge, proud smile watching on as my boys smother me with love on that one special day just as I did with her. That would make her so happy. And that makes me happy. 

A mothers love is forever and I have no doubt that our mums are aware of how much we love them, even if we can’t tell them on that special day. They know. Of course they know. It’s a bond that never breaks.

Happy Mothers Day to every amazing mum, here in person and in spirit.



Leigh Van Der Horst is a mother of four boys who lives at Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Leigh discovered a passion for writing when her beloved mother passed away from cancer and now regularly writes for her inspiring website ‘Leigh V Loves’. Leigh believes that with a positive attitude, life can be a wonderful adventure and hopes to encourage others to live their best lives and believe in themselves. Leigh has recently released her first self-published book called ‘Without My Mum’, dealing with the loss of a mother.

‘Without My Mum’ is available to be purchased at all good bookstores Nationwide or at www.vividpublishing.com.au/withoutmymum


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Lauren May 6, 2015 - 7:14 AM

wow – I really needed to read this. It will be my first Mother’s Day without my mum. It’s so upsetting. I guess I’ll just see how I go – and hope that each year it gets a little easier.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 7, 2015 - 8:52 AM

Hi Laruen, Sending you big hugs this Mothers Day. I will be thinking of you x

Lucy @ Bake Play Smile May 6, 2015 - 7:53 AM

I’m so sorry to hear about your mum Kat – she sounds like an absolutely beautiful woman. We find Mother’s Day very difficult in our family too. My Mum’s mum died of cancer when Mum was just a baby and my beautiful mother-in-law passed away from cancer 2 years ago. We usually just have a very quiet Mother’s Day. I’ll be thinking of everyone who has lost their mums xx.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:35 AM

That must be very hard on your mum, thinking of you all xx

Nicole @ The Builder's Wife May 6, 2015 - 9:06 AM

Beautiful and timely post. thank you. I’ve just added this book to this weeks shopping list. xx

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 7, 2015 - 8:57 AM

It really is a lovely well written book. Hope you enjoy it, Nicole.:)

Julia K May 6, 2015 - 9:26 AM

I have been thinking of you Kat and all the other “mums without their mums” since the Mother’s Day gift suggestions / craft ideas etc have been appearing in your blog. The lead up and the day itself must be filled with so many mixed emotions – wanting to “enjoy” the day for your children’s sake – yet pining for your own mum and her mum who I know also holds a very special place in your heart.

My mother is now 90 years old and we are so blessed that she is still with us. She is my children’s only surviving grandparent. The best gift my mum and I can share on Mother’s Day is the gift of time together. She lives interstate and although our budget really can’t stretch to it – I am flying with the three younger children down to Sydney on Saturday afternoon so we can spend Mother’s Day with her. We will go to lunch at the local “cheap and cheerful” Italian restaurant and spend a couple of days together. This time is much more precious than any gift and we both know that it may be our last Mother’s Day together.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:38 AM

Thank you Julia, it is hard and must admit the past few days I have been a little sad, thank you for your kids words.

Ooh what a wonderful daughter you are and a special gift to give to her, I hope you all enjoy your time together and create some wonderful memories, don’t forget to take lots of photos.

Jennifer Roberts May 6, 2015 - 11:01 AM

My sister & I lost our mum last July & we’ve been struggling lately with Mother’s Day looming so thankyou to my dear friend Tanya who sent me this link I read thru my teary eyes but feel reassured I’m ok & my feelings are felt by others thanx again xx

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:41 AM

the first is always the hardest Jennifer,but it is such a beautiful day to remember all those happy moments or why she was a wonderful Mother, you may be teary and that’s allowed, but you will find that one memory that will bring a smile to your face… and that’s allowed too. Will be thinking of you and your sister. xx

Kathy May 6, 2015 - 2:23 PM

at least you got 32 years with your mum she got to see you grow up and start your own family and give you some advice

Leigh Van Der Horst May 6, 2015 - 9:59 PM

Yes, I am very grateful for all of that Kathy, thank you x

Annette May 6, 2015 - 2:51 PM

This will be my first Mother’s Day without my mum. I am struggling beyond belief. I always made a huge deal of my
Mum on Mother’s Day as she was my world. I know my kids will make my day special but I’m not sure how to get through it. I have your book and I thank you for hating it with us all.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:45 AM

Ooh Annette, I am so sorry to hear about your loss, all I can share is that I gave myself that first Mothers Day to grieve for my Mum, I found it very hard to celebrate the day and the family did understand that. Be kind to yourself and remember those beautiful memories of your mum, what made her so lovable and treasure them xx

Deborah May 6, 2015 - 4:25 PM

I lost my mum nearly 5 years ago. She was diagnosed with lung cancer the day after Mothers Day 2010, and gone 3 months later. I only just told my husband today how much I dislike Mothers Day. Leigh, your words could be mine.

Leigh Van Der Horst May 6, 2015 - 10:02 PM

Sending you all my love and strength hun xx

JoJo May 8, 2015 - 12:24 PM

This is my 10th Mother’s Day without my mum. And deep down I actually dislike Mother’s Day too. But with two excited kids that cherish me and get super excited about the whole thing I put on a brave face which at times I must say is such a battle I end up ruining the whole day for everyone 🙁 BUT I have to say the last 4 or so years I’ve learnt to be the mum and just enjoy my kids for what it is. Soon they will be all grown up and wont always be around. But the pressure ……. Be brave xo

Wendy May 6, 2015 - 5:53 PM

Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year that is next to mums birthday and of course Christmas. This is my 2nd without mum and yes I’m dreading it, I will try for my kids of course but most defiantly it’s a hard day .

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:46 AM

Will be thinking of you Wendy, hoepfully the kids can help you through it xx

Cas May 6, 2015 - 8:56 PM

I lost my mum 30 years ago when I was just 9 years old. Mother’s day is definitely a hard day, then a week later I’m hit with her anniversary. Its also hard with my own beautiful husband working away this Mother’s Day and me trying to put on a brave face for our 2 beautiful daughters. I can not say that in the last 15 years as a mother myself I look forward to Mother’s Day. I also dislike people who have no respect for their mothers….what I would do for one more…hug, kiss, day or lifetime of memories to have my mum here. Everyday is another feather in my cap of being a strong person. Love & Miss my mum everyday xxxx

Leigh Van Der Horst May 6, 2015 - 10:01 PM

I hope you have a lovely day hun xxxxx

Cassandra May 7, 2015 - 9:19 AM

There seems to be a lot of this going on. I read something in the Age today about another women losing her mother and setting up a website. Purple the world or something. You have a competitor in the mummy grief biz Leigh. It’s an industry now. You needed a coloured piece of clothing to sell to get this thing off the ground. Pink earmuffs? I’m not sure your mother would be too keen to learn that you are using her death as a vehicle towards what, celebrity? Have you started looking for an agent? Let’s be honest about our intentions.

Julia K May 7, 2015 - 11:52 AM

Ah now Cassandra – if you can’t say anything nice – ’tis better to say nothing at all.
Reading the other comments – it seems to me that Leigh’s comments and book have been of help to others who have sadly lost their mums. I don’t think this is the appropriate place to start a debate.
Enough said.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 8, 2015 - 9:52 AM

I don’t feel that is what Leigh is aiming for, it is about awareness of grief and whilst I am sitting here in tears reading about other ladies that have lost their mum and trying my absolutly hardet to reply in comforting words, it’s hard. What are the right words to say to help them through such a hard time? I know so many of my friends and family didn’t say much after I lost my mum as they didn’t know what to say, it’s a very lonely place. Leigh has been able to put it all into words and many many people are grateful for this, as am I.

Liz May 8, 2015 - 10:19 AM

It’s not a business making scheme Cassandra, it’s about women who have lost their mothers, wanting to help other mothers out there going through the same thing. It’s tough being a mum without your own mum around. Knowing that they are missing out on their grandchildren, and you miss out on having that guidance from her and getting to share everything that goes on in your life.

JANE May 8, 2015 - 11:43 AM

Cassandra, the fact that you needed to share a negative comment on such a genuine blog? I have sincere empathy for you 🙁 You obviously have a very heavy heart <3

Liz May 8, 2015 - 10:13 AM

I lost my mum when I was in my teens. I found a great book called Motherless Daughters that helped me cope. I’ll be sure to read this one too. These types of books are a great help to know you’re not alone & gives you the hope that grief does get better with time.

Liz May 8, 2015 - 10:25 AM

Someone needs to write about losing your dad too. That is a tough one. Dad’s are meant to be invincible, and when they’re gone it’s really hard.

Joy May 8, 2015 - 12:04 PM

Hi Liz, I agree my Dad was just always there, broke my heart when he was gone. I consider what I read of Leigh’s post applied to the loss of Mum and Dad.

Anne May 8, 2015 - 10:55 AM

Every word is so very, very true! I can not wait to read this book. I lost my beautiful mum 8 years ago suddenly to cancer while pregnant with my second daughter. The hype leading up to mothers day is almost unbearable for me, (I don’t even want to leave the house), but I am so happy for everyone out there who still gets to spoil their mum on this day and every day, including my 2 gorgeous girls. They will make my tears turn to tears of joy.

Joy May 8, 2015 - 12:23 PM

Thanks for writing the book Leigh . Many years ago my husband died as the result of a crash where a driver had been drinking and speeding. At 22 with a five and three year old our lives were shattered. If there would have been a book I could have read where someone had travelled the journey we didn’t want to go on and I could have known one day we would be alright I believe it would have helped even a little . When hearts are broken and lives shattered even a little is of benefit. It was so long ago that there wasn’t counselling no help for us at all except loved ones who were struggling with the loss the same we were. So good on you Leigh for sharing your journey of grief there will be many who will be comforted even if just a little.

Jodie May 8, 2015 - 8:58 PM

I lost my mum almost 5 months ago to cancer and I miss her very much , I know Sunday is going to be a hard time for our family. I hope to get your book as it might help me with the lose of mum. I think of mum every day and the special moments she is going to miss in my life.

jane dunne May 9, 2015 - 4:18 PM

This post is amazing and so very timely. No one understands how you feel this time of year unless you’ve experienced it yourself. This is my 3rd mothers day without my beautiful mum, and it still never gets easier even with my own kids. You try to be so happy for them, but a piece of you is so broken its hard to enjoy the day. Special hugs to alll those feeling the same way. Xxx

Ann S May 9, 2015 - 5:30 PM

Thankyou for this post on the eve of Mothers day as I read through the stories I realise I am not alone with grief ..I really needed this thankyou everyone for your stories , I must say its been 6 years without my mum but still hard , I am grateful for my two children that make my day special every year and reading about others through blogs just knowing each and everyone of us have felt the pain of losing our mums , hope you all can have a special day tomorrow with loved ones helping you through x


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