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Sunshines and Hurricanes and the Grief of Losing a Child to Brain Cancer

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Have you ever tried to explain the unexplainable to someone?

I believe most of us have had things happen that change us. Things that suddenly redefine who we are at our very core. We can’t explain what it has been like. Trying to put the experience into words that do any real justice is impossible.

For me there have been many redefining life events, but none have shaped me more than the loss of my only daughter, Olivia.

It has been almost four years since she died in my arms, and I still find it pretty impossible to accurately describe the intense range of emotions I deal with on a daily basis.

Today I was driving into the office, listening to the radio and heard someone talking about the storms of life. The intense downpours and the breaks of sunshine in between. And it hit me that grieving Olivia has been equally filled with sunshine and hurricanes.

There are times when the storm rages inside of me. It’s at those times I feel completely consumed with grief.

I cry at the drop of a hat.

I get so angry over the smallest things.

Everything feels overwhelming.

Simply seeing a little girl around the age she should be or thinking about Olivia is enough to send me into a tailspin.

And then, just as quickly as it started, the hurricane goes away. The winds cease and I am able to pop my head up and survey the damage. The sun breaks through the clouds and I am no longer consumed. In between the storms I can enjoy the sunshine. I’m able to think about her and smile.

I can bask in the calmness.

Grief is tricky and I’ve discovered there’s no way to avoid the inevitable hurricanes. Stuffing the sadness will only lead to a bigger storm down the line. It’s best to embrace the hurricanes and the sunshine and know both come when you lose a great love in your life.

As they say, great grief comes from great love.

Katie and Olivia Caldwell

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. To date we have given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting

This post was originally published on the Olivia Caldwell Foundation blog.

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Thinkstock photo by Tanom

Originally published: September 29, 2017
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