As You’re Grieving: Seven Questions to Ask Yourself

Losing four loved ones within a nine-month span made my mind go in all directions.  I thought about my childhood, things I wished I could have changed, and a future without my loved ones.  Most of all, I worried about my twin grandchildren, who lost both parents in separate car crashes.

I also worried about myself and my new role of GRG – grandparent raising grandchildren.  Grief worries can take over your life.  I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I made a list of questions that pull me back to the moment.

My list may help you.

The first question: Am I living the moment?  This is the crucial question.  If I’m not living the moment, then I ask succeeding questions.  No other questions are necessary if I’m paying attention to the moment.  Asking yourself this question makes you more aware of life.

The next question: What is the gist of the conversation?  In the early stages of grief, when shock was debilitating, I could barely follow a conversation, let alone contribute to it.  You may have had the same experience.  This question promotes attentive listening.

Question three: What was the last point made?  Again, this question makes you pay close attention to conversation, especially if several people have made comments about the topic.  Answering this question doesn’t prevent me – or you – from speaking.

Question four: What is surprising about this moment?  My office looks out over the yard and nature is an ongoing surprise.  Leaves are starting to fall from the 200-year old oak trees in the yard.  Deer (sometimes herds of them) wander by.  One morning, I saw a mother deer and her newborn baby.  Nature’s surprising moments inspire me and ground me.

Question five:  Is there something new in this moment?  You may have been promoted, or been blessed with a new grandchild, or just learned friends are coming to visit.  Surprises add richness to our days and we need to embrace them.

Another question I ask: What are the benefits of this moment?  You can make a new friend in a moment or feel overcome with love.  While each moment of life can have benefits, the most important thing is that you’re here, living the miracle of life.

The last question can’t be answered quickly: How can I make a difference?

You can help others even though you’re grieving.  Call a friend and thank him or her for their support.  You may donate money to a national health organization.  Life is more beautiful – achingly beautiful – when you pull yourself back to the moment and savor it.

Harriet Hodgson

More Articles Written by Harriet

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 38 years, is the author of 36 books, and thousands of print/Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. In 2007 four of her family members died—her daughter (mother of her twin grandchildren), father-in-law, brother (and only sibling), and the twins’ father. Multiple losses shifted the focus of Hodgson’s work from general health to grief resolution and recovery, and she is the author of eight grief resources. Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of blog talk radio programs, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. In addition to writing for Open to Hope, Hodgson is a contributing writer for The Grief Toolbox website, and The Caregiver Space website. A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, hospice, grief, and caregiving conferences. Hodgson’s work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. For more information about this busy wife, grandmother, author and family caregiver, please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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  • Pat Valore says:

    Harriet, you sound like an amazing woman. What a wonderful outlook on life.
    I have just gone through the first anniversary of my son’s death, and it has been extremely painful. It’s as if it just happened. I can’t believe he’s been gone for a year.