Behind a Grieving Mother’s Smile


Today marks 7 long months since I watched my little girl take her last breath after a long battle with brain cancer. My heart is just as beaten and broken today as it was the day she passed away.

During these 7 months I have learned to put on a brave face. I can smile, laugh, play with my son and find some small moments of happiness. But in reality, I am far from okay.

Every new memory I make will always be bittersweet. Every family photo will never be complete because we will forever be missing one of the biggest pieces of our family. That in and of itself is heartbreaking.

I put on my smile but those who really know me can see that I will never again be the same. My heart was broken in two and no matter what I do or what anyone says it will never be whole again. 

I loved Olivia so deeply. So completely. And I while I am better for having known her and loved her, I am now forever scarred by her loss.

I never could have imagined that I would only have 20 months with her. We fought so hard as a family to try and help her beat cancer and I never believed that ultimately treatment wouldn’t be successful. She had to beat cancer! There was no way she could leave us so soon.

When you see a grieving mother and think to yourself, wow she is so strong! I would be a wreck if I lost my child. Realize that she is a wreck! She is dying inside every single day! She has just gotten so amazingly tough through the strength that only comes from God in the process of her child’s illness and passing that she can make it look so effortless. But it isn’t. Not even close.

So I ask you. Please don’t forget the grieving mothers (and fathers) in the world. There are a lot of us. Remember that it doesn’t matter if it’s been 2 days, 2 years or 50 years since that day we said goodbye. We are never really okay. And praying for us, asking us about our children and acknowledging our grief is more helpful than you know.

Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a pending 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. All money raised benefits the neuro-oncology research lab at Children’s Hospital Colorado headed by Dr. Nick Foreman. To learn more and to donate, please visit our website at

6 thoughts on “Behind a Grieving Mother’s Smile

  1. There are no words that anyone can say that will alleviate your pain. the only words of comfort I can say are that I prayed for Olivia and I will continue to pray for you and your family. I have not suffered the loss of a child but of a close family member. The pain is unbearable, I know, but I can say that it does get a little better. Life goes on and with our faith and the love we have for God moves us forward in life until one day you will get to hold your baby again.
    May God Bless this family and send the strength to continue .

  2. Thank you for so eloquently reminding us of what we can do to comfort friends who have lost children comfort by sharing in the memories and not forgetting their pain. Having gone through this twice with my parents, you are so right about how parents put on a happy face, go through the motions and do participate again in life & happiness, but things are never the same. Thinking of you and your family.

  3. The world is forever bittersweet when you are living without your child/children. I often think I must be a really good actress to make it through some of these days. Thinking of you and sweet Olivia. Sending hope and hugs.

  4. I lost my daughter on 11/2/13.I am almost 7 months in and I feel exactly as you do. I want it to go away but it won’t. my heart is with you

  5. I lost my four year old son to brain cancer (GBM) on April 14,2014 and your words hit home with me…..he battled for nearly a year. The loss of a child is the loss of a future and you def lose a big piece of your heart. We are also starting a nonprofit foundation for pediatric brain cancer research! Fight it! Fund it! Cure it! God Bless!

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