In chapter three, Victor recounts losing his mother. Despite being advised to stay away, his mother helps nurse Elizabeth, who is suffering from scarlet fever. As a result, his mother catches the disease and dies.
Victor, who suffers from being self-absorbed, initially sees the death entirely in terms of what it does to him:
The first misfortune of my life occurred—an omen, as it were, of my future misery.
He then describes a process of mourning that includes a first wave of sadness, the bitter grief that occurs as time goes on, and the acceptance that eventually comes. Victor finally turns to preparing to leave for the university at Ingolstadt, a departure that had been delayed by his mother's death. By this point, he can dwell philosophically on being grateful to be alive, a sentiment that will change after he builds his creature.
Ironically, in chapter 1, Victor speaks of the value of his parents' nurturance as the basis of his happy life, a model he will not follow when he brings his own creation to life:
I was their plaything and their idol, and something better—their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me. With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life...
Frankenstein copes with his mother's death in part by absorbing himself in his studies at the university, becoming obsessed with creating human life from inanimate body parts. When he does bring his creature to life, he flees it in horror, but then has a dream in which he thinks he sees Elizabeth. However, when he kisses her, she has changed into the corpse of his mother, foreshadowing Elizabeth's death and suggesting that his mother's death still haunts Victor.
Six years later, Victor will return home, see his mother's portrait and feel it is so dignified it "hardly permitted the sentiment of pity." His tears are for the miniature of William below it.