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Bethenny Frankel Mourns Death of Her Mother After Lung Cancer Battle: ‘You Did the Best You Could’

Bethenny Frankel Mourns Her Mother After Battle With Lung Cancer
Bethenny Frankel Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Bethenny Frankel is mourning the death of her mother, Bernadette Birk, who died on Friday, April 19, at the age of 73 following a battle with lung cancer.

The Real Housewives of New York City alum, 53, posted photos and a touching tribute on Instagram, opening up about her complicated relationship with her mom.

“She was complex, in pain, isolated and had demons. She was the most stunning woman you have ever seen, who left her abusive home as quickly as I ran from mine. I was born on her bday,” Frankel wrote in the candid post.

She continued, “She was brilliant, funny, cultured and wise — yet suffered a lifelong eating disorder, alcoholism, abuse, smoking, and self-destruction. Despite not being equipped to be a mother, she loved me and I have beautiful memories of her. She taught me food, wit, culture and strength. She loved to dance.”


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Frankel went on to say that she had to grow up much faster than her own daughter, Bryn, 13, whom she shares with ex-husband Jason Hoppy. “I won’t sugarcoat it,” she wrote. “I was an adult long before Bryn’s age, experiencing things no young child should endure. This made me strong, tough, a survivor who is able to handle anything. The universe gave me the most beautiful daughter and my childhood gave me inspiration to break the chain.”

The reality star added that she and her mom reconnected following Bryn’s birth, and that Bryn and Birk shared a special bond and “love of art.”

“She was selfish in life, yet selfless in death,” Frankel noted of Birk. “She left what little she had to my daughter, wished to be cremated, and wanted no one to be notified besides me.”

Frankel, who is engaged to longtime partner Paul Bernon, said she had “a sixth sense” her mom had passed, as she “started to release some trauma” and “was dancing to the song ‘I’m Alive’ in her favorite designer Alaia dress as she was dying.”

She continued in her post: “I remember her as a young woman during periods of happiness loving me and long for those memories of affection. I mourn her loss, her life, her loneliness and my childhood. I mourn her inability to experience motherhood, the most beautiful gift of a lifetime. Goodbye mom, Bonnie, Bernadette. You did the best you could and you are free and at peace.”

“I miss my mommy as a little girl and I am grateful for my daughter consistently pushing to meet her and myself for re-opening old wounds for [sic] their relationship,” she concluded. “I think of you on this journey with me releasing your trauma and I hug you. Life is about loss and loving. I have had shame in never really having family, yet my very small group of friends, my beautiful Bryn, and you are my family.”

Frankel ended her tribute by asking followers to “call, connect with, or hug someone” with whom they have a complicated relationship.

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The Bravo alum has clearly put a huge focus on parenthood after experiencing her own tumultuous childhood. She recently spoke to Us Weekly about raising her daughter, who entered her teens last year.

“We’re right ‘be-tween’ childhood and adulthood, where they think they know everything, but your job is to protect them from the world and themselves,” Frankel exclusively told Us in June 2023. “I love parenting!”

She added that Bryn is “creative and free,” saying, “I don’t want her to be like me. I like her not [worrying] about a goal set.”

Frankel officially left the Real Housewives franchise in August 2021 but currently hosts the “Just B with Bethenny Frankel” and “Just B Divorced” podcasts. She also has a nonprofit, BStrong, a disaster relief initiative, and is the founder of health and beauty brand Skinnygirl.

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