When Diane Sher Lutovich set out to attain closure of her mother's death she simultaneously discovered how other women address their losses. "Nobody's Child: How Older Women Say Good-bye to Their Mothers", in poetry and prose, tells the big and little stories of women who, having come of age during the feminist revolution, lived very different lives than their mothers. The author addresses the guilt a daughter feels when confronted by her mother's life choices, the loss of family history and a belated recognition of her mother's legacy. The voices are heard within these pages, giving occasion for the reader to learn about the multiplicity of feelings-including remorse, fear, frustration, compassion, and deep admiration-that many daughters experience at their mother's passing.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Describes why the death of an elderly mother matters, authors relationship with her mother, background of interviewees, and overview of women’s mourning process.
Chapter 2 : The Mother-Daughter Connection
Addresses reasons for the intensity of the mother-daughter bonds; why daughters are caretakers for their widowed mothers; and demographics that indicate this tendency will increase.
Chapter 3: Relationships
Focuses on ways daughters remember their relationships with their mothers, the different kinds of relationships, and ways memories affect the responses to their mother’s deaths.
Chapter 4: What Death Triggers
Examines what daughters mourn when their mothers die; how some start facing their own mortality; and how it spurs some to rethink the rest of their lives.
Chapter 5: Foundations of Guilt
Looks at some reasons why daughters may feel more guilt over their mother’s lives than their deaths, what this guilt means and ways to let it go.
Chapter 6: A Mother’s Legacy
Discusses the importance of a daughter seeing her mother in her totality and accepting the historical and cultural influences affecting her mother’s life.
Taking Care of Yourself: Chapter 7
Looks at ways daughters found to take care of themselves including planning and participating in rituals, friends and family, and counseling for prolonged grief.
Holding on and Moving Forward: Chapter 8
Daughters discuss how their mothers’ deaths became a springboard for their own growth and talk about how they learned what to incorporate and what to reject.
Summarizes lessons women can learn from each other and from their mother’s deaths; emphasizes importance of daughters looking clearly at their mother’s death–and life.