Angelina Jolie Pens Heartfelt Tribute to Her Late Mother Marcheline Bertrand: 'Her Death Changed Me'

"Losing a mother's love and warm, soft embrace is like having someone rip away a protective blanket," Angelina Jolie said


Angelina Jolie is remembering her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand.

On Sunday, the actress penned an emotional Mother's Day op-ed for the New York Times in tribute to Bertrand, who died in 2007 at age 56 after a battle with ovarian cancer.

"I lost my mother in my thirties," Jolie, 44, wrote. "When I look back to that time, I can see how much her death changed me. It was not sudden, but so much shifted inside. Losing a mother’s love and warm, soft embrace is like having someone rip away a protective blanket.

The mother of six recalled how Bertrand's split from Jolie's father, actor Jon Voight, shifted Bertrand's career in acting and forced her to focus on motherhood. "When my father had an affair, it changed her life. It set her dream of family life ablaze. But she still loved being a mother," Jolie wrote.

"Her dreams of being an actor faded as she found herself, at the age of 26, raising two children with a famous ex who would cast a long shadow on her life," the Oscar winner added. "After she died, I found a video of her acting in a short film. She was good. It was all possible for her."


Several years after her mother's death, Jolie got a small tattoo on her right hand of the letter "W" — a reference to the Rolling Stones song "Winter" which Bertrand sang to her as a baby.

The Maleficent star said that while the tattoo faded over the years, it helped her during a period of her "own loss."

“As the ‘W’ faded on my hand, so did that feeling of home and protection," she wrote. "Life has taken many turns. I’ve had my own loss and seen my life take a different direction. And it hurt more than I imagined it ever would."

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Last month, Jolie opened up about being a parent herself in a special edition of TIME's Parents newsletter.

"I was not a very stable youth. In fact, I never thought I could be anyone’s mom," said the actress, who is mom to Maddox, 18, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 13, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. "I remember the decision to become a parent. It wasn’t hard to love. It wasn’t hard to dedicate myself to someone and something greater than my life."

Knox L&eacute;on Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, <a href="" data-inlink="true">Angelina Jolie</a>, Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt
(L-R) Knox Léon Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jolie also said that she empathizes with "all the mothers and fathers with children at home" amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

"It is a lovely thing to discover that your children don’t want you perfect. They just want you honest. And doing your best," she explained. "In fact, the more room they have to be great where you are weak, the stronger they may become. They love you. They want to help you."

Jolie, who is a special envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, reflected on her time meeting fellow mothers around the world.

"This Mother’s Day, I think of refugee mothers I have met, living in poverty and displacement. Every one began her journey of motherhood with a promise to do all she could to protect her child. To lay down her life if necessary," she wrote. "And if she is defeated and silenced, few things are more tragic. Through refugees, I’ve come to believe that a mother is the strongest person on earth. The softness of her skin is deceptive. She is a force driven by love and loyalty. There is no one who solves more problems."

Jolie added, "When she has only love to give, it pours from her soul. When a mother comes to you for help and you do not provide it, she may weep. But she will never give up. When you deny her child safety and shelter, she may seek it in a hostile land where her body is vulnerable to abuse. Her heart will be sick with loss. But she will fight on for her child. Because she is a mother."

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