by Chelsea Ohlemiller
In 2017 I lost my mother, my best friend, and the greatest woman I’ve ever known. She was 57. I was in my early thirties and days away from my wedding. I found myself surrounded by compassionate souls that wanted to help, but also souls that had never experienced significant loss. Outsiders looked at my life and the transformations that were occurring in me, both physically and emotionally, and they didn’t know what to do or say. I was different, and my future would be different. Changes all of us were trying to navigate while holding a loss that each of us handled unique and specific to our love.
Quickly, I learned how the pain of loss is so uncomfortable to those who have to witness it. Even more so for those who have to sit with it. There I stood, a shell of what I once was, in a world that felt foreign and one that continued on as if my mother hadn’t just taken her last breath. Grief became my companion. One I worked for an entire year to outrun, outsmart and outplay. I failed. You can’t outrun your shadow. You can’t outsmart fate, and you can’t outplay something that lasts forever. Instead, I found myself exhausted and overwhelmed.
One day, instead of tucking my sadness away and displaying an inauthentic smile, I began writing. I began pouring my heart onto the screen and pages of anything I could find. I let it all out. My pain. My brokenness. My wavering faith. My jealousy. My anger. My confusion. My grief. All of it – the hope-filled pieces and even the raw and harsh pieces. I held nothing back.
And it felt freeing. It felt like I could breathe a little easier and carry the weight of losing my mother with a little bit more support and comfort. One day I got brave and decided to share my writing with the world, the very thing my mother used to encourage me to do when she was living. I never listened to her advice and wisdom until after she passed, but when I finally listened to her whispers of encouragement from eternity. It changed everything.
Eventually, I created the website/blog and social media brand, Happiness, Hope & Harsh Realities – a place that honors grief and supports those who have experienced significant loss. While I’d do anything to have my mother back, if I must live with this grief, I will use the talents I’ve been given to help others feel less alone on this path of reconstruction after loss.
I’ve learned a lot about grief since losing my mother. It comes from love. Immense love. Love transformed, not lost.
It comes in waves. Unpredictable waves. Waves that will both carry you and knock you down. Waves that will allow you to float and also sink you down so deep you think you’ll never resurface.
It cannot be ignored. It is powerful and mighty. And it never stops. It never goes away. Instead, it stays with you like an uninvited guest and an unwanted companion.
It teaches you things. Things you’re not ready to learn and the things you are. The lessons of grief ache, but they also have great value if you pay attention. It can be lessened with remembrance, hope, and time. Time doesn’t heal your grief, it simply changes your perspective.
Never be ashamed of your grief. Never lock it up or hide it from the world. It’s a beautiful piece of you, created by love and gifting you the opportunity to become someone’s legacy.
You are a grief warrior, friend. Keep stepping.
For more information about Chelsea, you can check out her website.
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