Bethenny Frankel Mourns Death of Her Once-Estranged Mother

Bethenny Frankel's mother, Bernadette Birk, died on April 19 following a battle with lung cancer.

Bethenny Frankel is mourning the death of her mother, Bernadette Birk, after the 73-year-old passed away Friday, April 13, following a battle with lung cancer. The Real Housewives of New York City alum, 53, reflected on her complicated relationship with her once-estranged mother over the years in a touching Instagram tribute following Birk's passing.

"My mother has died of lung cancer," Frankel began the lengthy caption of a collection of photos from throughout her mother's life. "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."

"She was brilliant, funny, cultured and wise – yet suffered a lifelong eating disorder, alcoholism, abuse, smoking, and self-destruction," the Bravo alum continued. "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."

Frankel said she didn't want to "sugarcoat" her upbringing, noting that she had to grow up much faster than her own 13-year-old daughter Bryn, whom she shares with ex-husband Jason Hoppy. "I was an adult long before Bryn's age, experiencing things no young child should endure," she wrote. "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."

Frankel and her mother reunited after Bryn was born, she revealed, and the grandmother and granddaughter connected over their shared "love of art." The Skinnygirl mogul continued of Birk, "She was selfish in life, yet selfless in death. She left what little she had to my daughter, wished to be cremated, and wanted no one to be notified besides me."

Frankel revealed she had a "sixth sense" that her mother had died, as she "had started to release some trauma, was dancing to the song 'I'm alive' in her favorite designer Alaia dress as she was dying." She noted, "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," Frankel 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." She ended by urging her followers to "call, connect with, or hug someone you have a complicated relationship with today."