My relationship with my mother was very weak because she was an alcoholic…. It was so difficult that she eventually decided to move to another country. When she had been there for seven years, she got infected with AIDS and died.

That was six years ago. I couldn’t go to help her, to be with her in her month and a half of suffering, or to bury her. I never saw her again. And it still hurts. I feel that I could have done more for her, but I didn’t. It hurts my heart and soul, and my tears won’t stop every time I think of her. Since she died, I have lost all motivation to do anything. I stopped working and studying.

Dear Friend,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. However, the guilt that you are feeling can’t be caused by your conscience, because you didn’t do anything wrong. Your mother’s situation was completely out of your control. She chose to leave you; you didn’t leave her. And she chose to live far away, so there was nothing that you could have done.

It sounds like the pain you feel is not caused by guilt, but rather by intense grief for what you wish could have been different. More than just the loss of your mother, you lost the opportunity to ever have a loving mother-daughter relationship. You could never, and will never, be close to your mother as many other women are. It hurts very much to know that.

Because of alcoholism, I was never close to my mother either. There always seemed to be a wall between us. As I was growing up, and even as an adult, I wished that I could have had the dependable and involved mother that most of my girlfriends seemed to have. I wished I didn’t have to be ashamed of my mother’s behavior and fearful of what she might do next. And then when she died, I had to grieve the fact that I would never have what I wanted so badly.

To help deal with my grief, I decided to put all my effort into being the kind of mother that I wished I could have had. I made the decision to be that woman not only for my own children, but also for my nieces and nephews, and even for my children’s friends. I can’t change what happened to me, but I can do my best to improve the lives of others all around me. I can be honest, dependable, and involved—all things my mother never was.

You do not have to let the past ruin your present or your future. God wants to heal your broken heart and give you strength for the future. The psalmist David knew from experience that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”(1) Like David, you can talk to God through prayer and pour out to Him your disappointment and disillusionment. He will comfort you and give you hope for the future.(2)

I wish you well,

1 Ps 34:18
2 Jer 29:11