Rad People

Rad People: Fiona Killackey from ‘When Your Mother Dies’

September 29, 2017
Debbie Reynolds and carrie fisher

A friend of a friend, Fiona Killackey, has created a blinking helpful online space called When Your Mother Dies.

Fiona’s mum died earlier this year, in April – very recently, right? – and she hatched this important site when it dawned on her that others might be struggling after similar loss, and that writing about it and sharing experiences might help everyone find a way through. (Or at least push on, for today.)

“I realised so many others would want to know about books that help and then podcasts and then actually ask others who had been through it ‘How the hell did you survive?'” Fiona told me.

“I started this site as a way of sharing what I have learned since losing my mum suddenly in April 2017,” Fiona explains over at When Your Mother Dies. “She was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader and the one person I ran to with all of my challenges and wins. She allowed me to be me and there are few people who show you unconditional love like your mum.”

“I found myself surrounded by amazing family and friends, all sending me love and flowers and hugs, but the messages I found the most comfort from were from people who had also lost a parent, in particular their mum. They seemed to understand the horrendous and heartbreaking emotions I was going through and I wanted to extend that comfort to strangers, who perhaps haven’t been as fortunate to be surrounded by such love.”

She’s encouraging people to add their own letters, if that feels like a helpful thing to do. Or they can explore suggestions on what to read or listen to, when trying to come to grips with the loss of a special mum – or other special person, I think, too.

What a practical and powerful legacy Fiona’s mum has sparked.

Anyone who would like to add their own letter can email Fiona via When Your Mother Dies or connect via Instagram at @whenyourmotherdies

Thanks for sharing this brilliant and helpful thing, Fiona.

x Pip


  • Reply Kat September 29, 2017 at 11:28 PM

    Motherless Daughters-the Legacy of loss Loss was a book I stumbled across years after my mum died when I was a teenager. Saved my life.

    • Reply Pip September 30, 2017 at 9:08 AM

      So sorry about your Mum, Kat. Thanks for sharing this book. xx

  • Reply Collette September 29, 2017 at 9:42 PM

    Do you know, I have shared in your private groups and publicly, the pain I experienced from losing my Mum. My youngest was four months old when my Mum died suddenly. My heart still breaks when I think about losing my Mum. I had a six year old and a four year old, as well as my tiny baby. Losing your Mum is life changing, terrible and traumatic; and there is nothing about it that can ever be positive. When you shared this on Instagram recently I went to that site and thought may be I would write my own letter. I still might. But no amount of public acknowledgement will ever take away the hideous reality of the fact that the person that knew you from conception, birthed you, nurtured you, tended to you, left you when you needed them to leave you, came back to you when you needed them to come back to you, held you as a grown up child when you wailed and needed the hands of your mother to stroke your back when you lost a baby, or continue to lose babies, has gone. They have gone. Nothing. There is no salve to that.

    And you Pip, are a lovely and generous soul that I know has experienced pain and heartbreak and shares only in the spirit of generosity and genuine care. And perhaps if it was me just sharing just with you that my whole world broke apart when we turned off the life support in my Mum’s ICU ward, and that she took so much longer to die than what the doctors said she would, and that if I had have been able to nip out and just breastfeed my baby without the fear that I’d miss her last breath, and that ….oh so many things. If I could have shared that without people turning their backs, shying away from my pain and my grief, well, I don’t know, I might be in a different place right now. So maybe, just maybe this might be what children need. But I fear it is only a place for the pained. Who wants to know about the for ever wounded?

    • Reply Pip September 30, 2017 at 9:05 AM

      Oh collette. This is terrible and terrific (the terrific part, simply that you share your experience)… The terrible part that you have been through a terrible lot – and are still enduring that.

      What I like about this site, is that it pulls us away from the chatter of social media into a different space where words and thoughts can breathe. I also think that almost everyone has experienced loss – although I am GUESSING the loss of a mother (and babies) are especially difficult and different one – and we all need someone to throw us a lifeline as we deal with the loss, in our various ways.

      Thanks for commenting and talking about your life. It’s important and as I read it this morning while I waited for my coffee to brew, I caught a tiny glimpse of how hard things must be for you – and others who have lost the ones they love.

      You are right, I do know heartbreak and pain very acutely and recently (as many of us do) but my losses have not been too close (as in, my own parents or siblings or nan), thus far, so I have a lot to learn there.

      Thanks again for piping up. x

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