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Bethenny Frankel announces mom Bernadette Birk has died from lung cancer in touching tribute

Frankel shared the highs and the lows of her complicated relationship with her mom in an emotional tribute on social media.
/ Source: TODAY

Bethenny Frankel is mourning the death of her mother, Bernadette Birk, who died from lung cancer.

Birk died on April 19, 2024 at age 73 in Sunrise, Florida, according to Neptune Society.

Frankel shared news of her mother’s death on Instagram on Saturday, April 20. The former “Real Housewives of New York City” star posted a carousel of photos alongside the touching tribute, including photos of her and her mother over the decades, ending with a snap of Birk posing with Frankel’s daughter, Bryn Hoppy.

In the caption, Frankel wrote about her complicated relationship with her mother, including both the good and the bad from their years together as mother and daughter.

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

While Frankel described her mother as “brilliant, funny, cultured and wise,” she also noted that she had her struggles too, including alcohol abuse, an eating disorder, smoking and “self destruction.”

“Despite not being equipped to be a mother, she loved me and I have beautiful memories of her,” Frankel added. “She taught me food, wit, culture and strength. She loved to dance.”

Frankel didn’t “sugarcoat” her tribute, noting that she became “an adult” before she was the age of her 13-year-old daughter, adding that she experienced “things no young child should endure.”

“This made me strong, tough, a survivor who is able to handle anything,” she wrote. “The universe gave me the most beautiful daughter and my childhood gave me inspiration to break the chain.”

Frankel said that she ultimately reconnected with her mother for the sake of Bryn, noting that her mom “adored” her daughter and they had a shared love of art.

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

Bernadette Birk and her granddaughter, Bryn Hoppy.
Bernadette Birk and her granddaughter, Bryn Hoppy.Bethenny Frankel / Instagram

While Frankel shared some of the tougher moments with her mom, she also said that she remembered her “during periods of happiness loving me and long for those memories of affection.”

“I mourn her loss, her life, her loneliness and my childhood,” Frankel wrote. “I mourn her inability to experience motherhood, the most beautiful gift of a lifetime.”

Frankel shared a sendoff to her mom, noting, “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 their relationship,” she wrote in part. “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.”

To end her caption, Frankel encouraged her followers to “call, connect with, or hug someone you have a complicated relationship with.”

Bethenny Frankel shared several throwback photos of her mother in her touching Instagram tribute.
Bethenny Frankel shared several throwback photos of her mother in her touching Instagram tribute.Bethenny Frankel / Instagram

Frankel’s comment section was flooded with condolences from friends, fans, and fellow “Real Housewives” cast members and alums.

Kyle Richards commented on the post, writing, “I’m sorry Bethenny. Thinking of you and Bryn.”

“So sorry for your loss , so sorry for the pain your mother had within her and had it affected your relationship with her,” Ramona Singer wrote in the comments.

Vicki Gunvalson added, “I’m sorry for your loss. This was beautifully written. Peace be with you.”

“I felt this,” Sai De Silva, who opened up about her complicated relationship with her late mother during Season 14 of “RHONY.” “What a beautiful message Bethenny, sending so much love and light.”

Many fans also shared their own similar experiences in the comments, with one Instagram user writing, “You speak for so many of us . Peace.”

“Such beautiful words and so extremely similar to my mom,” another fan wrote. “Sorry for such a loss.”

One fan added, “I completely get this. Every word. I’m sorry.”