Motherless Daughters | Learning to Live Through the Heartbreak

Motherless Daughters | Learning to Live Through the Heartbreak

shadia mom

This is a story about losing a mom at a pivotal time in a girl’s life.

Shadia’s mom died from cancer when she was 13 years old. Her sister was 8 and her brother was 16. These letters share glimpses of crucial points in her life. Life has come full circle for her through an amazing organization, She Climbs Mountains. 


January 6, 1995

Dear Mom, 

How did you possibly die yesterday? Did this really happen? What am I going to do without you? I went to school today. How could I have gone to school the day after you died? Do I want attention or just to forget about everything (probably both)? Please come back. I need you. 


Shadia and mom


April 2000

Dear Mom, 

It’s my Senior prom and I am going with Greg. Remember when we would drop May Day baskets off at his house and I would run away? I hope to carry on this tradition with my kids one day. Anyways, I wore a white dress and I don’t think you would have picked that color for me, but I will never know.


Shadia prom



September 2002

Mom! I got a bid to be an AGD. I finally get to experience the sisterhood and live in the same house that you did. I saw your signature in the closet of my room… it was really bizarre and super cool all at the same time. 

AGD bid


September 12, 2009

Dear Mom, 

Today was the best day of my life. I got married to the most wonderful man. I know you would have loved him so much. He is smart, witty, meticulous and can carry on a conversation with anyone. Aunt Shirley helped me get ready and your wedding ring was a part of my bouquet. I am mad at myself for not mentioning you at the reception, but I just couldn’t do it. I think our guests understood and could feel your spirit around us.


 Shadia and Nick




Dear Mom, 

You are going to kill me. Aneisa and I got a tattoo in honor of you. It’s in Arabic proverb that means “one that lives at the foot of a mother.” It hurt so bad, but yet I don’t feel –  I don’t feel the pain, the trauma, the loss (not yet at least). Please don’t be mad.

 shadia tattoo



March 6, 2013

Dear Mom, 

You are a grandma again (our Sito Haddy). Not one that will ever be able to kiss, cuddle or play with your grandkids, but one that will live vicariously through all of us. Layla looks so much like you (the darkest black thick hair). She came out smiling and has the loudest scream that you have ever heard. This parenting thing is SO hard. I need you. She is colicky. I need you. Breastfeeding sucks. I need you. I never sleep. I need you more than ever. 




September 2017

Dear Mom, 

I did something big this weekend and I think you would be proud of me. I went to a retreat with other motherless daughters. I was terrified and spent the first night bawling and could barely speak. This group of women are my people and I am so embarrassed that I have not spoke about you in 23 years. What kind of daughter am I? What if my kids don’t talk about me after I die (gulp)? This weekend taught me that all the feelings I have had throughout the years are validated. There is so much commonality between me and the other motherless daughters. I promise to never stop talking about you! 



September 2019


Dear Mom, 

I have been working on myself and my trauma for the past couple years through therapy. It is harder than I could have ever imagined but has brought out so many beautiful things in my life. Remember that retreat I went to with She Climbs Mountains? Well… we are starting a youth program for girls who lost their mom through death. Talk about life coming full circle, right?  This is my calling, mom. All the pain, suffering and sadness I have endured was worth it, if I can change one girl’s life for the better. 

 girls rise up


Thank you for making me the strong and empathic women that I am today. I miss you from the depths of my soul. Until we meet again. 

Shadia, Daughter of Haddy