Mother’s Day Without Mom: Janeena’s Story of Loss & Healing 

Ahead of Mother’s Day (Sunday 12 May), we will be sharing stories of Christian mothers and what this day means for them. Whether Mother’s Day brings feelings of joy, grief or a mix of both, we hope that this series can be a celebration of all the mother figures that God has blessed us with. 

In this interview, Janeena shares the grief of growing up with an absent father and losing her mum to cancer when she was only 8 years old. For Janeena, Mother’s Day has always been a day of grieving—a reminder of a void in her life that was only filled when she came to know God as her Father. She then shares how God has generously provided “family” for her in Australia and a “village” for her as a first-time Mum. Finally, she shares words of hope and comfort for others grieving on Mother’s Day.  

Trigger Warning: This interview mentions cancer and death. 

  1. Please introduce yourself! 

My name is Janeena, I’m 26 years old. I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Australia when I was 17 to study and pursue a career as a Registered Nurse. I am a member of Fellowship Baptist Church, Blacktown and served in the youth ministry, worship team and ladies committee. I am also a first-time mum, so my ministry these days looks like settling my son when he is crying, changing nappies, breastfeeding and washing soiled baby clothes. In my free time, I like to read and journal. 

  1. You lost your mother when you were only 8 years old. How did this loss impact your childhood and the way you’ve experienced Mother’s Day over the years?  

I lost my mother to cancer when I was only 8 years old. My mother was the hands-on parent in our family, guiding me in all things, most especially in my studies. When she passed away, I lost my coach and my #1 supporter. I didn’t quite reach the academic goals that I set for myself and didn’t learn basic life skills growing up such as cooking and cleaning. I had no guidance as I was going through puberty…no one to ask questions about dating and periods, just to name a few. 

Growing up, Mother’s Day has always been a day of grieving for me. Each year, I am reminded of the person that I lost and the things I never get to experience with her – things that seem so ordinary for some, such as going shopping together or being taught how to bake or having someone to call when stressed out about life. There was a void in my life most prominent on Mother’s Day that didn’t get filled until I knew God as my Father. As a born again Christian, I still think upon my loss: My mom was not there for my graduation and my wedding, and she’ll never get to see me become a parent. But the Lord, in His love, has a way of comforting and healing. 

Janeena with her late mother
  1. What are some things that your mother taught you that you hope to pass onto your own child?  

My mom showed me that love is all-encompassing. She prepared every meal I ate, she watched over my shoulder when I played, and she checked my homework before I turned them in. My mom was the one person I knew I could always trust and rely on. Her love made me feel secure and confident. I was at ease knowing that she would be there to encourage, guide and correct me every day of my life. There are many things I’ve forgotten about my childhood, but I will never forget her love. I hope that as a parent, I can be the kind of mother that will make my son feel secure in my love, so he can thrive as an individual and pour out the same kind of love to his future children also. 

(Fun fact: We named our son Felix after my mom. Felix means “happy” and my mom’s name is Joy.) 

  1. You grew up in the Philippines and migrated to Australia after high school. In what ways did God provide for you as a teenager in a new country, and without your parents around? 

God generously provided me with a new family in Australia. My aunt & uncle took me in as their own – gave me food to eat and a roof over my head, paid for my education, disciplined me where needed and taught me how to share responsibilities and become a member of a household. Their children became like my siblings, and for the first time in a while, I experienced being in a “normal” (nuclear) family. I caught a glimpse of what it would have been like if my mom was still around.  

  1. How has God the Father continued to provide for you in your transition as a new mother without parents around to help?  

Entering this new season of my life, the Lord has made Himself enough for me that the loss of my mom or the absence of my dad seems just a fact-of-life instead of a devastating reality. I can face motherhood knowing that the Lord is present, and I can rely on Him in hard moments: When my husband is at work and I am left alone with a newborn, when I am hit with the postpartum blues, or in the middle of the night when my son won’t settle. 

God also gave me parental figures: supportive in-laws and my Pastor and his wife who care for me as their own. They show me what unconditional parental love looks like. I am also grateful for my local church and my extended family in Australia who visit me at home, bring meals and provide things that the baby needs. I may not have my parents around, but I do have a “village” that the Lord weaved together for me over the years. He is good and faithful. 

Photo: Janeena as a first-time mother by Cherry On Top Photography
  1. What is one piece of comfort that you would share with someone who is grieving or missing their mother this Mother’s Day?  

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) No matter what your situation is, whether your mum passed away like mine, or they are overseas, or you’re not on speaking terms with one another… the Lord knows your pain. The eyes of the Lord are toward you, His ears hear your cries (Psalm 34:15). The Lord in His sovereignty has allowed you to be in this situation, but remember that ultimately, “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10). He knows what He’s doing. You can trust Him with your sadness. He will walk you through it and grow you through it. You are not alone, and you are greatly loved by Him. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8) 

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