A Year of Tears: Sadness and Joy

I’ve always been a believer in the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason”. It helped me with the ups and downs of the beginning of my relationship with my now husband (we started as friends), through quitting my secure job and going back to graduate school to pursue my true passion, and landing my current job that I absolutely love. This phrase never rang more true than when I found out I was pregnant last March.

My dad had been diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer in July 2012. When you hear the word “cancer” your mind immediately goes to the bad, but my dad was strong and we had hope. Unfortunately, glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, and for the majority of people diagnosed, it is a death sentence even with treatment. My dad fought cancer hard and with a positive spirit until April 28, 2014. The day he died, I was nine weeks pregnant. No one knew except our immediate family and a couple of our closest friends.


I was fortunate to be able to share the news of our pregnancy a week before my dad went into the hospital and eventually ended up in hospice at home. He was excited for us, but the whole time he was laying in bed slowly losing his ability to eat, talk, and move, I began to question the phrase that had gotten me through so much before. Why was the greatest thing in my life, being pregnant with my first child, happening at the same time as the man who had a part in giving me life lay dying? What was the reasoning behind this?

The beginning of my pregnancy was a whirlwind. I was excited for this new life, but mourning the loss of my dad and wishing he could be there to meet our new baby. The thing that got me through my pregnancy was believing he was with me every step of the way and protecting the precious life inside of me.

On November 20, 2014, we welcomed our little girl, Elin Lennette, into this world. At that moment I found the answer to the “Everything happens for a reason” phrase at this point in my life.


Elin was born to give us joy through the first holiday season without my dad; she was born to help us heal some of the sadness that may never go away completely; and she is here to remind us of what really matters in life—family. While she may never physically meet her grandpa, I know she will always have a guardian angel looking out for her. And for those reasons, I will continue to be a believer in “Everything happens for a reason”.

Have you experienced an immense loss while pregnant? How did you deal with the grief?

Elizabeth Kreher
Elizabeth is a personable, outgoing mom living in Cedar Rapids and working as a high school counselor. She met her husband, Ryan, in high school, but were friends for several years. They started dating while they were both at the University of Iowa and have been married since 2009. After enjoying 5.5 years as a married couple with only a dog to be responsible for, they added to their family in November 2014 when their daughter Elin was born. They welcomed their second daughter, Myla, in October 2016. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys being outside, reading, traveling, attempting to be crafty, running, cheering on the Hawkeyes and spending time with family and friends. She’s loved seeing Cedar Rapids through the lens of a mom and all our city has to offer for families.


  1. I was 7 months pregnant when my grandma died. She was an extremely important force in my life, and she died unexpectedly of complications following a routine surgery. It was so difficult, I wanted so badly for her to meet my daughter. I wanted her to hang on for two more months, and she said that meeting my baby was the only loose end she had in life. But she didn’t hang on, she died a week before my baby shower. My whole family got together for my shower, and we had a nice time despite it. She had gotten me a gift and my aunt got it from her car and brought it to me after the shower, I cried and cried when I opened it. We all got together a week later for her funeral (she was adamant upon death that her funeral wait for my shower!). Big and pregnant in a black dress, it was surreal to be so sad and so excited. It was so stressful as we cleaned out her apartment and the late pregnancy hormones mixed with the sadness, I fought with my dad and sister. It was miserable.

    When I had my daughter early, three days after what would’ve been my grandmother’s birthday, I was so sad not to be able to call and tell her. I had told her the name as she lay in hospice and she was thrilled to hear it. But I wanted her to see Adeline’s face. I yearned for the pictures that my sister and cousin have of her holding their babies. I want to give her updates on milestones and hear how they compared to her three boys. I’m still sad about her missing all of this, and that I don’t have her to talk to. My daughter is six months old now and we’re spreading my grandmother’s ashes in May. It’s still hard.

  2. I can absolutely relate to this. My brother died suddenly in his sleep the morning following Christmas 2012. We were at his service when I just ‘knew’ I was pregnant. I took the test the following morning and it confirmed what I suspected. It was such a tragic and sudden loss to lose my big brother with absolutely zero warning. I think if it wasn’t for the pregnancy I would have lost myself completely but somehow knowing that I was still responsible for caring for our daughters as well as my pregnancy gave me the strength that I’m not sure I would have had otherwise. However, being extra cautious and not wanting to cause more stress during my early pregnancy I will say that I don’t think I allowed myself to grieve properly. Whenever my mind would start to go ‘there’ I would consciously shut it down. For that reason alone it was at times a blessing and a curse.
    However, I now see my brother a great deal in our daughter and I have no doubt he stays close by her. Thank you for sharing this post.

  3. My mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2010. She died about 6 months after diagnosis and about a 1 month after I got engaged. I think she knew I was engaged and I’m glad for that, though she was pretty confused at the end so it’s hard to know. Glioblastoma is a terribly difficult disease to deal with because of how it takes the cognitive processes with it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. My grandma died while I was in labor with my daughter in 2014, it was so hard. She had Parkinson’s, and we had kind of felt the loss for years, but it was so hard to watch my dad in pain as he welcomed his granddaughter into the world. and then I had to leave the hospital (on my own birthday nonetheless), and take my two day old baby to the funeral home. 🙁 thinking of you and the loss of your dad.

  5. After 6 years of riding the infertility roller coaster and losing 2 babies by miscarriage my husband and I were so excited to find we were pregnant with our “now” son Brandon.

    However, what I didn’t expect was for my mom to be diagnosed shortly after our news with her own news of throat cancer (due to acid reflux). One full of hope that is life giving and one with hope that it not life ending!

    After, chemo and several intense radiation treatments my mother was free of cancer. But, the treatment that freed her of cancer also severely damaged her lungs and the tissue in her esophagus was unrepairable. The physician described it as thought the insides of her throat went though a meat grinder and he said it was unrepairable. She was not strong enough for surgery. She passed shortly after our “pre-mature son was born (I’m sure the premature birth was due to the stress of my mothers failing.” She had the privilege of holding our son…her grandson. We were able to share a few new “mommy” moments and I know she chuckled inside watching me balance this new life.

    Elizabeth, like you I know the birth of our son carried me through some very dark moments. The grief of missing my mother took me by surprise. I found myself in fetal positions many of days missing her but, GOD knew I would need something to keep me going on those days and my son was that “something”…thankful in God’s perfect timing.

    Blessings to you and your family. May those memories of your father continue to bring joy to your heart as well as the daily ventures with your daughter.

    • CJ–Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear of your loss as well. We’re lucky to have such wonderful guardian angels protecting our babies!


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