Grief—the love between a mother and daughter

Read Ashleigh’s poignant tale of moving forward after loss and steps to look after your wellbeing.

Ashleigh Feu'u sitting by her mother's coffin, holding a framed photograph of her mother.

Ashleigh Feu'u—PhD Candidate and Tutor in Pacific Studies, Bubble Leader for Student Wellbeing.

Losing my mother, Patricia McFall, suddenly to cancer in 2019 triggered my strong career interest in mental health and wellbeing. Our relationship was founded on love. She played an important role in my upbringing and was my main support during my education and transition journey. To have her ripped from me was devastating.

Everyone deals with grief in their own ways and in their own time. I felt empty, sad, and my heart had torn in pieces. Grief kicked in even more after her funeral—the continuous crying, mood swings, feeling unsociable, miserable, and alone.

I was not in the right head space. I needed to prioritise my wellbeing. Firstly, I continued the things we did together—gardening, cooking, visiting a café, or going to the movies. This allowed me to reminisce about our precious time together. I opened up and let my family and my girls in with their kindness. I was constantly reminded by them—“you are always loved”.

Tragically, my wellbeing was shattered again when my house was broken into a week before my mother’s unveiling. The stolen items were my personal belongings and my mother’s, including her oral history interviews—the sentimental treasures I listen to when I miss her. But I was not going to allow this disheartening event to throw me back.

For me, grief is my way of showing endless love for my mother. I long for her—my best friend.