Why my mum didn’t tell me she loved me

16 Nov

As we sat in traffic lights on the way back from my mum’s final radiotherapy session she turned to me and said “I’m scared I’ll die before I’ve told you how much I love you”.


Love isn’t telling somebody the fact. It isn’t giving a big present or making an inflated gesture.  It’s showing it.  Over and over, year upon year, bit by bit. It’s the small things, the things that go unnoticed at the time, but that make you know that someone is there.

It’s feeling it. Constantly and consistently. Despite the arguments and the harsh words and the differences in opinion. Like a warm blanket draped across your shoulders.


So as the traffic lights turned to green I touched my mums hand and reassured her that her job had been done a long time ago.

And when she passed and there were no final words, no declarations of love, no grand words or gestures, no tears, it didn’t matter.

I carried all I needed to know around with me in my heart.

That is love.


37 Responses to “Why my mum didn’t tell me she loved me”

  1. theanamumdiary November 16, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Just beautiful x

  2. Alli Marshall November 16, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I still feel loved by my Mum x

  3. Kirsten Lodge November 16, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Thank god, H. Someone that understands *that*. My mum never tells me she loves me. She has once… it was just before I went on my big overseas trip. I know that she desperately wants to tell me but for whatever reason – probably because of her upbringing – she can’t. I used to be envious of other daughters who hung up the phone with a casual ‘love you’ to their mums. But as you said in your last post… we can’t have everything. And I’m bloody lucky with the mum I got and it sounds like you are too x

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

      quite a few of the comments have said the same thing – that older generations are different with their displays of affection, but it is not the same thing as love.

  4. greenmumsblog November 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    That’s really lovely and so true, thanks for sharing that memory x

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

      i love to record all these memories, it’s very important to me.


  5. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments November 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    I wish with every piece of me that my children know with the same certainty you have shared here how much I love them. So completely, without hesitation or ifs or buts. Just the love of a mother for her children. You writing this gives me hope that they too will grow up knowing this.

    Thank you!

  6. kelloggsville November 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Gosh, that is truly beautiful. I have a similar memory of having my head in my dads lap whilst he twizzled my hair. No words required.

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      love memories like that. i have a memory of my dad drying me with a towel after a bath and tickling me and me giggling away. So precious.


  7. fenngirl November 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I can’t imagine how much you miss your mum, but your honest posts give me a glimpse of the enormity of your loss.

    Sometimes words are unnecessary. You just know xx

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

      sometimes the enormity is difficult to take, but the writing has helped me a lot.


  8. Steph November 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Very teary-eyed, H. Bless.

  9. anne November 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Oh how beautifully written and so true! It’s the little things in life that shows how much they love you. My mum never tells me she loves me, I think it might be her generation which hasn’t ‘learned’ to show affection or are embarrased to do so, but deep down in my heart I know she does and she misses me. You’re mum is watching over you and lives on in you. xx

  10. TheBoyandMe November 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    That is so lovely and comforting to read

  11. Blue Sky November 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I very recently lost my Dad and I found this very comforting xx

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

      so sorry for your loss.
      but it is amazing to know that i touched you in this way.


  12. Mrs Worthington November 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Lovely words and very true sentiment. If I had written that blog I would’be balled my eyed out. Your writing is an effective way to deal with bereavement and very powerful

    • marketingtomilk November 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

      it has been immensely helpful and cathartic. but there are still many, many tears.

  13. Mummy's Little Monkey (@Jax2000) November 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    My Mum is not an ‘I love you’ person either. Kiwis aren’t, generally, over emotive or demonstrative – especially not from her generation. When I moved to Australia 14 years ago she wrote me a letter telling me all the things she couldn’t say out loud.

    She shoved it in my hand just as I was going through the gates at the airport and told me to read it on the plane. I still have it tucked away somewhere.

    When I moved to the UK I decided I wanted to make sure she knew how I felt, so I started to say ‘Love You’ at the end of our phone calls. To begin with she would just reply ‘OK, bye!’ which, over time, evolved into an embarrassed mumble, which eventually became, ‘You too.’ Now, 10 years on, ‘Love you too’ practically trips off her tongue! It took a long time, but we got there in the end – LOL!

    I’m the opposite with my daughters. I tell them ‘I love you’ all the time and admittedly I demand it back, but the flipside is that the continual declaration might lose impact over time. I’d hate for them to dutifully trot the words out on autopilot, without really thinking about what they mean. Sometimes you can say less, but mean more. xx

  14. Jo. November 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I lost my own mother to cancer. I sat with her day by day during her last moments wondering if she loved me… she never told me, not once in my entire lifetime those precious words and yet somehow I knew she did. My promise to be there and help her through her last days was kept and as she faded from this life into the next I told her; through my tears which even now fall… “I love you, goodbye”. That day was over 11 years ago now and time has helped me heal, helped me through each day as slowly but surely I picked up the pieces and began to get on with my own life once more. Now I have grandchildren whom I treasure and I make sure that I tell them, again and again how much they mean to me and how much I love them as I did and do their parents, my own children. I pray you too will find peace and be able to move on once more as I am certain your mother would have wanted you to do. She is at rest now and evermore will be.

    • marketingtomilk November 19, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      thank you. I’m glad you stil felt it with your mother even if she didn’t speak it. x

  15. Rebecca November 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    So true, and so well put. My Dad is currently undergoing chemo for advanced lung cancer, so I’m having lots of thoughts like this at the moment.

    I come from a very non-tactile family… no ‘I love you’s’, no huge cuddles… but there was/is always the feeling of safety and love. Some things just don’t need to be said 🙂

    • marketingtomilk November 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      I’m really sorry to hear you’re going through this. mail me if you need to vent or chat or anything. x

  16. Mrs TeePot November 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Such beautiful writing and so true. Words are cheap, emotions have to be shown.

    • marketingtomilk December 14, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      words are kinda cheap, though incredibly precious when in the hands of us writers ;>)

  17. Sandra November 21, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Loved this!…and you almost made me cry! Gah! I hate crying! But this was beautiful…

    • marketingtomilk December 14, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      Thank you Sandra, next time i’ll make you really cry!


  18. Crystal Jigsaw November 21, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    A very touching and emotive post. Absolutely spot on.

    CJ xx


  1. Best of the Parent Blogs: Ten at Ten (37) | Tots 100 - November 18, 2011

    […] love isn’t about words, but about a feeling, and that’s why I was so moved by this post over at Marketing to Milk, about how it’s possible to feel a mother’s love even if it’s […]

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