On March 21, Queen Latifah’s beloved mother Rita Owens passed away after struggling with a heart condition for more than 10 years.
The actress and rapper confirmed her mother’s death in a statement to People:
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” said Latifah. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this Earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”
Latifah went on to express how much her mother, who was an art teacher, meant to her.
“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over,” Latifah shared. “I am heartbroken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”
Latifah previously opened up about caring for her mother after her diagnosis of heart failure in a post on The Huffington Post:
“Over time, I gradually took on the role of caregiver to my mom, along with other members of my family. Caring for the woman who not only raised me, but made me who I am, is not the type of thing that I take lightly. It also comes with its own unique set of challenges. But I realized that as with most things in life, it’s all about attitude and gratitude. We were both scared when we first got the diagnosis, but my mom always said you can’t let fear paralyze you.”
In her blog post, Latifah also explained how she helped care for her mother — namely by encouraging healthy eating and exercise:
“We learned that to manage heart failure, it is so important to eat a heart healthy diet, to watch the salt, exercise, and keep her blood pressure under control. We check food labels to make sure we’re minimizing the salt in our diets and cut out sweets. I had to learn how to tell mom no, which was hard at first. Even when she was in the hospital, people would bring her cakes, cookies and candies. As my mom’s advocate-in-chief, I had to enforce a hard line and tell them — and my mom — that this stuff is not allowed!”
In 2016, Latifah and Owens appeared in video for the American Heart Association together in honor of Mother’s Day:
We’re sending our deepest condolences to Queen Latifah and all of Owens’ loved ones as they mourn this difficult loss.