Mindy Kaling will make you weep when she discusses her mother’s death

These are photos of Mindy Kaling going into and leaving the Ed Sullivan Theater a few days ago. She stopped by Letterman to promote her TV show, The Mindy Project, which will start on Fox new week. You know I like Mindy a great a deal – I have affection for all of the Indian and Indian-American actors trying to make it in Hollywood (because I’m Indian-American myself), but I have a special love for Mindy. She’s my Jennifer Garner, if truth be told. Many women see Jennifer Garner as their avatar in Hollywood – an “average” woman who prioritizes her family, who prioritizes “normal” in an abnormal world. That’s Mindy for me – refreshingly down-to-earth, funny and “normal”. She’s also one of the few women of color in a lead role in the current crop of television shows.

Mindy recently appeared on New York Magazine to promote her show too. You can read the full piece here, which I would recommend. It’s excellent. One of my favorite Mindy quotes: “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?” Other favorites: “If it were up to me, I’d look like a Vegas showgirl.” But when things get serious, Mindy is still really amazing. Here’s a profoundly moving part where Mindy discusses her mother’s death:

After the two-hour fitting and over BLTs, the conversation keeps turning to her mother. The chemotherapy started in May 2011, when Swati went to the doctor with a backache and ended up with a diagnosis of stage-four pancreatic cancer. There’d been no history of cancer in the family. Mindy took two months off from preproduction of season eight of The Office and moved back home. She wanted to be there to go with her mother to her chemotherapy appointments, to help her buy her first wig, to sit with her and watch the entire season of Modern Family, which Swati loved so much she was constantly telling her daughter that The Office should be more like it. “I was like, ‘Okay, Mom,’” says Kaling.

Kaling’s book was coming out in November, and she was living at home for the first time in over a decade. Reading through the sunny interviews she gave during that time, you’d never suspect anything was wrong.

The day her mother died, at age 65, less than eight months after her diagnosis, when Kaling was living in the hospital in a cot by her side, Reilly ordered the pilot for Fox. “And when my mom passed away and my dad was like, ‘Can you tell everybody?’ I went to get my phone, which I had not looked at for, like, 36 hours, and it was filled with e-mails and phone calls,” she says. “And I thought, How do people already know about my mom? But it was about the pilot, because the news had already gone out while I had been in this cocoon of this hospital with my family. It was the weirdest thing.”

“My relationship with my mom is really the single most profound relationship that I’ve ever had in my life,” she tells me. “By the way, it seems like I’m … I’m just blowing my nose. It’s not because I’m sad.” She has allergies and a cold, she promises. But her voice breaks when she starts talking about how she sat down with a pen and paper and asked her mother to give her all the advice she could possibly give her before she died, and Kaling realized she’d never be able to ask her mother for advice again. “I said to her, ‘Mom, I’m going to be so lonely without you.’” She’s crying now but keeps going. “And she just said, ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’”

One gets the sense that Kaling hasn’t given herself a chance to grieve, nor does she really want the chance. “Maybe I’ll be able to look back in a couple of years and understand,” she says. If she gets too reflective, she’ll get bogged down in sadness and anger thinking about how much her mother would have loved what was happening to her right now. “I like to move forward … I don’t know how much it would help for me to think about things too much. It just seems so f–king unfair. So I get on my elliptical machine and listen to some Rihanna and try to forget about this bulls–t.”

[From Vulture]

I’ll admit it: I’m weeping right now.

Anyway, last Mindy story – Page Six says that Mindy was spotted having lunch with JOHN MAYER yesterday at the Trump SoHo, and that they were “discussing her love life.” A spy says, “Mindy was asking for John’s advice. She said, ‘You have to tell me what you think! Please!’ ” Dear Mindy: please don’t receive or follow dating advice from the KKK Dong. He’s a terrible person.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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46 Responses to “Mindy Kaling will make you weep when she discusses her mother’s death”

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  1. Jen34 says:

    Aw, I’m crying, too. I adore Mindy and wish her great success.

  2. Tillie says:

    I love her so much too! My eyes are getting awfully wet.. Good Luck Mindy!

    • Molly says:

      Im sad for her to have had a mom who gave good advice and was supportive. To have had that and lost it is so unfair.

    • Molly says:

      I’m sad-jealous. I’ve been longing my whole life to have a mother who gave good advice and who I could have had a close relationship with. Instead, my mom was one of those moms who was, while adult and professional in the outside world, childish and immature at home, attention-seeking, and depressed. Syarting at the age of 11, I had to try to take care of her emotionally and it is really lonely and hard, even when you love your mom. It was my dream to have a mom who had the will and energy and mental stability to be a mom.

      So I feel especially sad for Mindy. To have had a loving relationship w/ your mom is a gift. To know that she lost her great mom to cancer feels so unfair.

  3. Relli says:

    Oh god i read this last week and i sobbed. Sometimes Mother’s can be annoying, I am one now so I can say that now with even more conviction, but at the end of the day they can be your biggest fan and harshest critic!

    I have a lot of hope for Mindy’s new show, the pilot was awesomely funny I watched at least 5 times when it was HULU.

  4. kay says:

    **tears roll down**

    I think, if at the end of my life, my children can say that about me, I am a success.

    • Nessa says:

      Perfectly said, Kay. I couldn’t agree more.

      • OriginalTiffany says:

        Yes, this.

        So sad for her. At the end of my Oncology career my grandmother was dying from colon cancer and I did sleep beside her every night at my mom’s house medicating her every few hours. She died about 10 days after I started that. It killed my mom and me. So much so that I quit soon after, I just can’t watch any more people die of cancer. Its about the saddest thing ever.

        Mindy is so funny, so great. She has been executive producer of The Office for a while. I’ll be watching both shows this season.

        Bears, beets, Battlestar gallactica.

        Hugs for Mindy, for my mom, for your moms and for everyone that has battled or lost a loved one to cancer-for that matter the Oncology teams that battle for and with them every single day. *goes off crying*

        And I am calling my mom right now!

      • Amelia says:

        Crying, crying, crying.
        Hugs for you, Tiff!
        Heck, hugs for everyone 🙂

  5. Nan209 says:

    I’m so looking forward to her show. It feels so rare that a smart comedy with a female lead comes along and Mindy is wicked smart.

    That part about her Mom kills me. She made me think of my Mom who is alive and well but aging now. I’m very tight with my Mom. She’s my best friend. I don’t think I’d be very good at grieving. Unlike Mindy who keeps moving forward I’d probably be a ball of snot and tears sagging in a corner for eons before I’d realize the world went on without me.

  6. Blue says:

    I got weepy reading that. I can’t cry though because then my 2 yo will hug me and tell me it’s alright and make me bawl even more.

  7. hoya_chick says:

    Crying over here. As someone who lost their mom as a young woman I totally know what she is talking about. The anniversary of her passing was this month and it is one of the worst days of the year for me. You never get over it just sort of live with it. It really is unfair. Sigh. Pulls self together.

    I absolutely adore her and think she is so funny. My college roommate who has become one of my best fiends is Pakistani American and I have been an honorary ‘brown’ person for at least 8 years now. Lol. So I’m way more immersed in the Indian/Pakistani culture than I sometimes realize.

    I love that she is getting so much press and her book is hilarious. When does her new show come on Kaiser? You should add that in the story so people know when it premiers. How does she even know that dbag John? Lol whatever, she seems very smart and together so let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. I like her outfit in the header.

    • NYC_girl says:

      I’m so sorry. 🙁

      • hoya_chick says:

        Thank you! Reading everyone’s responses is so lovely. Stay strong ladies. Love this site. You are all friends in my head :).

        I read your other comment below about the date. That sucks. Im sure someone even more fantastic is out there for you!

        It’s funny the things you miss. Little tiny things that you once took for granted. A smell, a conversation. Just knowing they’re there for support. I love what Mindy said about their relationship being the single most important one she has ever had. Ditto. I try everyday to be half the woman my mom was and hope that by just being the person she raised me to be I’m honoring her life and memory.

        K, I need to go read about the Cracken and stop thinking about this. Lol.

  8. buckycat says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have clicked, and yet. I lost my mom in a car accident last year, so I didn’t have any warning that she wouldn’t be around for advice and hugs and stuff anymore. And so I’ve been trying to write down all of her sayings and pieces of advice in a little journal before they wander out of my brain.

    Fist bump to Mindy. This shit sucks.

  9. enes says:

    Oh dear god that made me cry like a baby. Mindy really encapsulates the way I’d feel if my mum passed away. My mum is my best friend – utterly and completely. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if my mum wasn’t here.

  10. Abby says:

    Breaks my heart. I’m 28 and I lost my mom last year. She was 56. I constantly think of things that I wish I could ask her for advice about. I miss her every day.

    I read Mindy’s book a few months ago. Looking forward to the TV show!

    • AJ says:

      I too lost my mom at 56…6 years ago. She missed my wedding, the birth of my daughter and now baby #2. There are so many things I wish I could adk her or tell her. It never gets easier. It’s so heartbreaking for anyone to go through. Parents aren’t supposed to die young.

  11. Craigory says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love this woman- she’s amazing in so many ways, and to be so open and honest about something so personal is just beautiful.

    I never knew she lost her mom so recently. Her mom must have been an amazing person to have raised such an exceptional woman- love you Mindy!

  12. Alexandra Bananarama says:

    Started tearing up by 3rd paragraph.
    Losing a parent is so painful. Lost my father at 12 to heart disease and to watch someone that’s a pillar of strength and love in your life slowly leave and be in pain is gut wrenching.
    My heart goes out to her and for that matter anyone here who’s also lost a parent.
    It just plain sucks no matter the age, circumstances or how much time has past.

  13. Hakura says:

    Had me in tears too… My mom is my best friend as well, & I’ve gone through some really rough times where I isolated myself from everyone but her. She was my *only* friend, which caused us to become even closer.

    I can’t imagine losing her, so I don’t try.

  14. Johanna says:

    ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’

    Wow! :'(

  15. Blondie says:

    I hope Mindy receives the success she truly deserves. She is a STAR.

  16. DeltaJuliet says:

    I read Mindy’s book and it was so apparent how much she loves her mom when you read it. So when I heard she had died I was heartbroken for Mindy. My mom and I are super-tight too, so I can’t even imagine how painful it will be when I don’t have her here anymore.

    sad :*(

  17. Maddie says:

    My mom died from pancreactic cancer in 2002 and like Money’s mom she wasn’t feeling well and when the diagnosis came back we were all shocked.

  18. lucy2 says:

    I didn’t realize her mother had passed away. So sorry to hear of her loss, I wish her and her family the best.

    I’m a big fan of her work, and I hope her new show does really well. She’s worked hard and deserves it, and I think she’s a refreshingly smart, talented and funny voice in today’s pop culture.

  19. muprhy says:

    I could see her staging that meeting with John Mayer just to confuse people, she’d think that was hilarious.

  20. NYC_girl says:

    I had a good date with someone last Saturday and we made plans to go out again this week, but I got an email from him this morning saying he didn’t want to see me again. I told my mother first, then my bf. I was kind of bummed initially, but I’m crying now. I’ve often thought the same thing, how lonely I’ll be when she’s not here anymore. I hope Mindy is OK.

  21. justbreezy says:

    definitely crying. lost my dad to cancer a year ago this month, two days before my eighteenth birthday. still miss him so much.

    i’m lucky to still have my mom, though. she truly is my best friend, and my rock.

  22. Celt Lady says:

    Lost my Mom a few months ago, and lost Dad a few months before that…..my heart aches for Mindy.

    My Mom was my rock, my dear friend, my biggest fan. The hole in my heart defies definition. I miss Dad, too, but nothing can replace a mother’s love if you are blessed to have a mother like mine. She was amazing.

  23. Alana Fajina says:

    DY-ING!!! What a brave chica!! Kudos Mindy, and I wish you a world of success!!

  24. Grace says:


  25. dcypher1 says:

    that was really sad. Im trying not to cry. I luv mindy I hope the show does well. We need more mindys in hollywood not lindsays.

  26. snappyfish says:

    “You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.”

    that is fantastic advice. thank you, swati, for that gem, and thank you to mindy for sharing it.

  27. mln89 says:

    this definitely brought tears to my eyes. my mother and i aren’t the closest but i would be devastated if she died. you always count on your parents being there until they are not.

  28. Isa says:

    Reading this hurts so bad. I’m so terrified of anyone I love dying. I live next to my parents, I love being so close to them.
    And honestly, when I was a teenager I was such a little prick. Ugh. I kick myself constantly for that. If only I knew how awesome my parents are.

  29. LucyOriginal says:

    “My relationship with my mom is really the single most profound relationship that I’ve ever had in my life,” she tells me. ”

    I can completely relate to Mindy’s feelings. I cannot even imagine losing my mom.

    Hugs to all of you who shared your personal stories.

  30. Trashaddict says:

    Lost mine to lung cancer about 6 years ago. Diagnosed in August, dead by Thanksgiving. Everybody, please don’t smoke, there are people out there that love you and want you to stay around. We waited until spring to have her memorial service, because she loved to be outside, weeding the lawn or tending her garden, she knew everyone in the neighborhood. I used to push my head into that space between her neck and shoulder, she had a wicked sense of humor and a great twinkle in her eye. I am not in any way religious, but when there is a soft, warm breeze blowing, I tell my kids, “that’s grandma”.

    • NYC_girl says:

      You might not read this, but my grandmother died of lung cancer, and she never smoked. Same timeframe as your mom, too. My mother had a pre-cancerous growth removed from her lung 2 years ago (she smoked 35 years ago). I don’t know if smoking is always the culprit. I’m so sorry for your loss anyway. 🙁

  31. Rachael says:

    Holy crap the part about her writing down all her mom’s advice killed me. Next time I roll my eyes at something either my parents do or say I will have to remind myself of this. 🙁

  32. kat says:

    I am crying. I love Mindy so much – she’s so refreshing and funny. If you haven’t read her book, you should. I was really, really close to my mom and also lost her to cancer, so Mindy is even more relatable to me now.