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Picking Up the Pieces After Child Loss

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The day I lost my only daughter Olivia to brain cancer, my heart shattered. Something deep inside of me broke. And ever since that awful moment on October 22, 2013 I have been living as an incomplete person. She was part of me, and living without her now just doesn’t feel right.

For four years I have struggled mightily with depression and anxiety. Watching my daughter endure cancer and then pass away at 20 months old in my arms has certainly taken a huge toll.

There are days when I don’t have the strength to tackle even the most mundane tasks. All I can do is take a step back, rest and wait for it to pass.

There are times I burst into tears for no particular reason or I lash out in frustration or anger. Grief is a roller coaster and the ride is exhausting.

My grief cycle was only magnified when my marriage ended more than a year ago and I became a single mom to two rambunctious little boys under the age of five.

But piece by piece my life and my heart are being put back together. And I am beginning to feel truly whole once again.

Over the past year I have learned how to take care of myself, and in a way that lets me be a more loving and present mother to the two little men I’ve been given the privilege of raising.

I’ve learned to say no far more often as I work to find a better balance in life. More nights are spent at home and I’ve dropped out of a lot of the extra evening activities the boys and I once enjoyed. The time is flying by and I want to soak up the minutes the boys and I have while they are still so little.


More recently my heart has been opened up to a new love. God brought me a wonderful man who loves me right through my grief as he patiently helps pick up the pieces of my broken, tattered heart.

Life is still messy and I am far from perfect. But piece by piece my life is turning into something incredibly beautiful.

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 $225,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more or donate by visiting

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

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Getty Images photo via max-kegfire

Originally published: December 7, 2017
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