Queen Latifah is mourning the loss of the “love of her life” after her mother, Rita Owens, died on Wednesday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” Latifah said in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE magazine on Wednesday. “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.”
“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over. I am heartbroken but know she is at peace,” she said. “Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time.”
Latifah signed off on the statement, writing, “Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”
Latifah opened up about her mother’s struggle with heart failure, which is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body, in a blog for HuffPost two years ago.
“It affects nearly 6 million in the U.S., including my mom,” the entertainer wrote. “It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people over the age of 40 will develop heart failure in their lifetime.”
She recalled the day that her mother was diagnosed with heart failure in her 40s and spoke about what it was like to be her mom’s caregiver and “advocate-in-chief.”
“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,” Latifah said. “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.”
Throughout the time she spent taking care of her mother, Latifah said the two learned as much as they could about heart failure to manage her mom’s symptoms and teach others about the condition. Her mom’s health battle taught Latifah a lot about her outlook on life.
“As my mom says, ‘You can’t change the past but you can change your future. You get only one shot at this body, so take care of it,’” Latifah wrote. “I know I’m going to do just that, and I hope you will too.”