Joan Rivers’ Death Reminds Us of What We Don’t Want to Talk About: Our Mothers Will Die

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With all the series of celebrity deaths and really terrible social news we’ve been hearing over the years and more specifically lately, I sometimes go completely numb. It’s like a weird defense mechanism—I hear so much bad news that when more comes I’m not nearly as shocked as I used to be.

I also understand that it can seem a bit “weird” to “mourn” the death of someone you never knew and that “regular” people die everyday but celebrity death is magnified because it’s talked about so much more because of social media. I cried for WEEKS when Michael Jackson died. I wept in my hotel room when I was finally by myself after finding out Whitney Houston died while I was on a flight to LA. But after that I felt like I became numb to every other death—I’d of course think it was sad, but the extreme reactions just weren’t there because I’d become used to it. I swear I’m not a cold-hearted shell—I’m actually really sensitive to the feelings of others but as I get older, somehow death while still very scary becomes more commonplace so to speak. The greats in entertainment are aging and many of our faves have passed and many more will pass.

But after hearing that Joan Rivers passed, that numbness went away and it became real. I ugly cried several times and will probably do it more as more specials air. Joan was a majorly influential person in Hollywood—she broke down barriers for our gender and will forever be an icon. Life wasn’t always easy for her but it was her “I have no effs to give” attitude that made us feel like we could get through just about anything. And yes, sometimes her jokes were WAY off the cuff, but Joan was Joan.

The most admirable thing about Joan Rivers to me (and there are SO many) was the relationship she had with her daughter. Like any mother-daughter relationship it wasn’t always perfect but they loved each other. They completed each other.

Joan’s own mother died without her mending things after they had an argument and in an interview with E! in May 2012, she tearfully told cameras that after finding out about her mother’s death, she declared she’d never have an argument with someone she cared about without making up with them that same day.

In a clip I found in an article on The Daily Beast

Rivers told me in both 2010 and 2014 that, when thinking about dying herself, she fretted most about her daughter Melissa. “We’re very close. We have nobody else: she has me and I have her. I think it’s going to be very difficult when I die, very hard for her.”

Rivers told me she worried about dying and leaving Melissa alone, especially as the pair had endured and survived the suicide of Edgar Rosenberg, Rivers’ second husband and Melissa’s father, in 1987. “I want to marry her off, so I know she’ll be taken care of. I’m worried about her,” Rivers told me.

“Your child is never not your child. You can be 90 and your mother 120, but your mother is still worried about you. I worry about Melissa. I look at everyone who she dates and think, ‘That one’s not right, that one’s not right.’

The essence of that excerpt is the thing that brings Joan’s death so close to home for me and I think so many of us. It makes us think of our own relationships with our mothers. And it also brings the realization of something many of us are rightfully scared to even think of: our mothers will die.

“If anything happens, Melissa,” Joan Rivers told her daughter just before another plastic surgery procedure, “I’ve had a great life. If I died this morning, nobody would say ‘so young.’ You’re a terrific person, Cooper’s fine. … I’ve had an amazing life, if it ended right now — amazing life! You’ve been wonderful and we’ve had a great ride together.”

Source: ABC News

I LOVE my mother more than words can describe. When I was a child I was SUPER sensitive and would let any little thing kids would say to me hurt my feelings and everyday I’d come home from school to cry and my mom was always there to comfort me and also to tell me I needed to toughen up more…lol. There isn’t a moment in life that I can pinpoint when she wasn’t there for me. I’m brave now because she was brave for me. I’m the woman I am because of her and I’m scared—TERRIFIED of what will happen the day she dies. It’s one of my biggest fears—more so than my own death. What will I do when she dies? This is something I would think about but then quickly try to get my mind on something else because deep down I—we—feel like our mothers are immortal.

When my friend Ty from Gorgeous in Grey would share her emotions and processes as her own mother was dying of cancer, I admired her strongly for it. She was SO brave. I remember one time I was lying in my bed one weekend afternoon thumbing through my Instagram timeline and came across a picture of Ty holding her mom’s hand while she laid in her hospital bed. It instantly made me cry—and I mean UGLY CRY. It was that moment where I said I’d have to better the relationship I have with my mom. It’s not perfect because I’m not perfect (ok and neither is she…lol) but bigger than my fear of her dying is my fear of her dying and not feeling how much I love her.

mom's hands
Not exactly holding hands, but close enough with my mom

Like Ty did, I, too started to document our special moments (I recorded a video of her just so I’d have something to watch so I can see her face and hear her voice when she’s no longer here).

I don’t have the answers. We can’t avoid it—death is a part of life. But what we can control is the moments we have while we’re here.

RIP Joan Rivers.

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas,, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style and beauty expert on The Real, CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.

11 Responses to Joan Rivers’ Death Reminds Us of What We Don’t Want to Talk About: Our Mothers Will Die

  1. Ty says:

    Aww! Love you.

  2. You trying to make me ugly cry at work! I hate to think about this topic. As much as my mom was in and out of the hospital last year, I couldn’t help but think, is this it? I was so tore up. I think i kept so busy just to avoid thinking about it. But she is doing great now and I’m thankful for that. We have to cherish every moment. *calls mom*

  3. Claudette M Gray says:

    *Ugly cry*…got a knot in my throat!!! This is so touching, Danielle. It makes me want to go to Trinidad as soon as possible to visit with my Mom…*calls Mom*. Thanks.

  4. Nesh says:

    This made me a little teary! My best friend always reminds me of that time she asked me in High School what was my biggest fear and I said losing my Nana, when my Nana passed I was a total wreck, I still struggle to deal with her death and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. Just the thought of losing my mom makes me shiver! I know many think that I’m spoiled because I’m an adult and I don’t need to talk to my mom 3/4 times a day, but I am very close to my mom and I love hearing her voice, especially since we live so far away from each other. Your article is so well written. Thanks for the wonderful reminder xoxo

  5. Amber says:

    I just read this and completely fell to pieces. I almost lost my mom this past July after we unexpectedly discovered she had an undiagnosed heart condition. Watching her unconscious on so many machines in the ICU made me realize how incredibly unprepared I was, and continue to be, to lose her. Our time together means so much more now and I’ve learned how important it is for loved ones to know they’re loved. I’m totally using your idea of the video, it will definitely mean a lot to have some day.

  6. DeeFresh says:

    When you lose a parent it’s always nice to know that you have friends who support you, even when things around you seem to be falling apart. I’ve already lost my mother so I know my own hurt well, but I appreciate you honoring the best in people and reminding folks to cherish their love ones and show them love before they can’t anymore :)

  7. Erica says:

    Well said Danielle. I had the same sentiments about my Mom upon hearing about Joan River’s death. I call my Mom every evening before I go out or go to bed. I do not permit a day to go by without hearing the sound of my Mother’s voice. I love my Dad, but Mom is different ( lol).

  8. Brenda says:

    This post…ugh so true. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought the world was ending because I never let myself think about her mortality. And even though she is healthy now, we aren’t as close as we could be. Thanks for this reminder, Danielle. Beautiful post.

  9. Pingback: Losing a parent: The thing kids never want to thing about | scooterphoenix

  10. Chi says:

    This is an old post that I came across searching for outfit inspiration and I felt compelled to respond. My mom and I had a rocky relationship when I was younger but now that I have my own kids I appreciate her so much. She is 70 now and in poor health but I am grateful for every extra day I have with her.

    And both times when Michael and Whitney died I was pregnant. I cried so much with MJ. I wasn’t expecting it. Whitney, sad as it was, I knew it was coming. Still I joked I wouldn’t get pregnant again because my babies kill pop stars. :(

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Chi!

      SO glad you’re appreciating her now. Mom-daughter relationships are so hard but we do our best. Gotta cherish them while we can.

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