It started with a child’s question to which there was no answer. Molly Rubesh and her husband Grant were a blended family, living in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Grant’s two young sons, Reid and Rylan, and Molly’s son and daughter, Conner and Claire, made up the lively and fun household. But there was also an element of sadness that hung in the air. Rylan and Reid had lost their mother, and Molly felt the weight of stepping into that role to create a loving and stable environment for the boys.
As much as Molly wanted to nurture her stepchildren through their grief, she was unsure how best to guide them. It wasn’t until she lost her own father this past year that she was able to fully relate to their feelings. “I realized grief is something that until you experience it very personally, it’s hard to understand. Parenting children through their grief and being a grown woman experiencing the loss of my father made me want to put into words what it feels like to lose a parent,” she says.
Last summer, Molly was sitting on her porch when it dawned on her that she wanted to write a children’s book about grieving. She recalled the time she was putting her youngest son to bed not long after his mom had died, and he asked her, “Is heaven farther than the North Pole?”
That moment had always stuck with her, and Molly knew it would be the title of her book. What she didn’t envision was that the final impetus for writing would be the death of her own father early in 2022. “I couldn’t have written this book from the same place that I wrote it without experiencing the grief that came with the loss of my dad,” explains Molly.
A Family Affair
From the start, the kids were involved in the process, by suggesting names for the characters and incorporating memories from their childhood into the story. The children in the book go to an ice cream shop called The Dairy Bar. Molly’s paternal grandparents once owned such a shop, and her dad worked there. In one part, the kids order sour apple chillers, which is a drink their mom enjoyed when she was pregnant. The personal touches made the story feel even more meaningful to the Rubesh family.
Writing the book opened Molly’s eyes further as to what her children have gone through. She says she couldn’t empathize with them at the time like she does now. “It’s a different feeling when you lose someone extremely close to you. Feeling that grief myself has bonded me to my boys in a different way.”
One of the main lessons in the story is that joy and sadness can co-exist. In the Rubesh family, the boys are thankful to have Molly as their mom now and her kids call each other brother and sister. “At the same time,” says Molly, “they can still miss their mommy. They don’t ever have to choose who they love more. It can be both. And that’s our message.”
Focus on Mental Health
As to the need for more resources for children going through the grief process, Molly quotes a truly astounding statistic: 1 in 13 loses a parent or caregiver by the time they are 18 years old. Molly has no training or background in the mental health field. In fact, she spent most of her career in medical device and pharmaceuticals sales. However, she started her own mental health journey after her divorce from her first husband and has continued it ever since. She is outspoken when it comes to her strong belief in the process and encourages everyone to seek support whenever it’s needed.
That includes her own boys. “I know that one book cannot heal the gaping wound that is in a child’s grieving heart. I realize it’s a temporary comfort, and they still need outside support from trained mental health professionals.”
As a way of giving back and continuing to help other children, Molly researched companies and nonprofits to find one where she wanted to donate a percentage of her book’s profits. She decided on the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG.org). It supports children by doing things like sending them to camp and paying for mental health services at no cost to the family.
“I want my book to be a start. It’s not the final stop,” explains Molly. “Giving back is my way of closing the loop for these children. So if anyone goes to my website or social media page, I want to encourage them to seek the help that can really making a difference in healing a child’s trauma.”
It’s clear this caring mother is making a difference. She’s succeeded in putting into words what it feels like to lose a parent, whether you’re a child or an adult, and Molly’s hopeful message shines through every page. As she so beautifully explains, “I’m confident our loved ones are still with us, and our energy is connected. The love that we have is everlasting, and it doesn’t end with the death of that special person.”
You can find Is Heaven Farther Than the North Pole? at:
And please check out Molly’s website: https://www.mollyrubesh.com/