There she sat in the back seat, sobbing. I could tell the kind of tears that flowed down her cheek.

It was grief.

She missed her. My mother. Her grandmother.

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She’s only eight, but sometimes it hits her unexpectedly, just like me.  She’s only eight, but she grieves, too. Sure, she is resilient as they say kids are, but she hurts, too.

She tucks away the pain sometimes just like the rest of us.

And sometimes, like tonight, it flows out of her, unable to be stopped or swallowed. 

I hate this part of losing my mother. Maybe more than anything else.

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Seeing her ache and experience her first true heartbreak is crushing as a parent. I want to soak up the tears. I want to erase the pain. I want to steal her sorrows and her hurt.

I wish she didn’t have to experience a loss as deep as this one, especially as a child. She deserves to have all of her loved ones here guiding her and filling her life with memories and love.

She shouldn’t have to explain she has a grandmother in heaven.

She shouldn’t have to hurt, but she does. We all do. 

Those tears falling in my back seat are little drops of love. Tiny little drops of love that fall from her eyes more often than my heart is prepared for. 

She is only a child, but she grieves, too.

And as much as I want to erase her pain, I can’t. So I won’t try to make her smile. I won’t try to change the subject. I won’t try to avoid the pain even though I desperately want to. 

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Instead, I will tell her I love her. I will sit and hold her while she aches. I will listen to her. I will remind her it’s OK to cry, and hurt, and be sad. 

And when she’s ready, I’ll let her decide what to do next. You can’t erase grief, but you can surround it with love. So for now, that’s what I’ll do. 

Chelsea Ohlemiller

Wife, mother, and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is married to the love of her life, Justin. She’s the mother to three beautiful and spunky children. She has a deep love of teaching and has always enjoyed helping inspire students. She is a Ball State graduate but an Indiana University Hoosier at heart. Chelsea’s mother always encouraged her to write. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. She decided to honor her mother's wishes and write. It was one of the best decisions she's ever made. Website: www.hopeandharshrealities.com Instagram Handle: hopeandharshrealities Facebook: @hopeandharshrealities