What I’ll Tell My Daughter About Grief & Love

January 4, 2021

It was a simple mother-daughter moment. Nothing fancy, nothing notable, until the moment you paused and looked at me with glossy eyes and said: “Mom, you remember the days when Memere was dying? The days that were hard and scary. I’m afraid I’m going to have to do that with you.”

My heart sank. As a mother I want to shield you from pain and worry, and here you stand, worried and fearful. Struck with the pain and heartbreak of death and dying. Stung with the reality of grief and the dread that it might find you again. My heart wants to tell you not to worry, that you’ll never have to experience that ache ever again, that your life won’t be impacted by grief’s presence or influence. But I can’t say those things because they simply are not true. 

Grief will find you again, hopefully a very very long time down the road, but it will come back. You will lose people you love. You will lose friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances. Grief is universal and constant. It will impact everyone you know at some point in their journey, an inevitable conclusion. One that is extremely unique and special for each and every person and relationship.

Sweet girl, you should know, deep grief, the kind that changes you and your entire life, is saved specifically for the people who love fiercely and without hesitation. It’s the outcome of living a life filled with beautiful, joyous, imperfectly perfect love and adoration. In some harsh and confusing way, grief is really a gift, a treasure even. It’s a symbol of the love you were blessed with. Some people in this world never experience great love and in return their grief is lighter and less powerful. Though this might seem like a better outcome, it is not. You my dear, should never shy from love and emotion for it’s the greatest influence in the world. The same way that it can shatter you when it’s lost or gone, is the same magical way it can lift you higher than the clouds and make you shine brighter than the sun. 

Love is always worth it. It’s transformative in the most resilient and crafty ways.

It outlasts everything. Death can steal a life, it can steal moments and future memories, but it cannot steal love. Love remains, even when souls part and final breaths have been taken. This world is brighter and better because the love that crafts it. 

There will come a day when you’re forced to say goodbye before you’re ready, and it will hurt, and it will ache with a fierce intensity, but you will get through it just like I did. You will find the unique courage and bravery that is tucked away inside of you and you’ll make the final moments of loving someone meaningful and full of grace. You’ll love with the same beauty you do now, and it will be your final gift to the one slipping away. Love was the last gift I ever gave your grandmother. Time and love, and in all honesty, it’s all she’s ever asked for. 

So, my precious girl, don’t worry about the harsh realities of death and grief, for no one knows the moments they’ll visit again. Instead, live a life of purpose. Live a life filled with love, immense love. 

And you should know, those days when your grandmother was dying, they were the hardest moments of my life, but they were also a special gift from the heavens. They let me cover Memere in persistent and undeniable love up until her very last breath. Those hard days gave me the opportunity to understand powerful love, to appreciate the one-of-a-kind mother I was given, and they uncovered a strength like I’ve never known, one like your grandmother held.

Sometimes the hardest moments in our life come with the biggest lessons. I learned in those final days the true value of a final goodbye. I learned the value of being loved as beautifully as you and I are. I learned that life is fleeting so we should soak it up and love well and often. 

One day, if you find yourself in the hardest of moments, with the deepest of grief, it won’t feel like it but it will be a priceless gift. It will have meant that I loved you as beautiful and as meaningful as Memere loved me, and it will have been my biggest accomplishment. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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