Celebrating My Deceased Daughter’s Birthday

Today would have been my elder daughter’s birthday.  She was born on Thanksgiving Day decades ago.  The hospital staff was preparing a turkey dinner for the new mothers, and I was very aware of the tantalizing smells while I was in labor.  I wanted to eat that dinner, but could not.

How am I going to honor my daughter’s life?

First, I am going to focus on thankfulness for having her in my life.  She became a composite engineer, had five additional engineering certificates, earned her MBA, and was supervising thee production lines for a Minnesota manufacturing company when she died.  Shipping generators to Iraq was one of the last things she did.

Second, I am going to enjoy my twin grandchildren.  My daughter did an excellent job of teaching them our family values: education, hard work, honesty, giving back.  The twins are high school seniors, straight A students, and researching colleges.  Being their guardian has changed my life.  When they leave for college my husband and I will be empty nesters again and it will be painful.

Third, I will try to be a role model for my grandchildren.  The twins have lived with us for two and a half years.  Though the kids share few personal thoughts, they are keen observers.  They know I love to cook, love to write, and have a caregiving type of personality.  “You care more about other people’s birthdays than your own,” my granddaughter observed.

Fourth, I will appreciate the miracle of life.  After four loved ones died within nine months, it was all I could do to get through a day.  I didn’t celebrate the miracle of life.  But this day is mine – a day of reflection, a day of gratefulness, a day to celebrate the miracle of my daughter’s life and our grandchildren.  As Margaret Mead once said, “The closest friends I have made all through live have been people who also grew up close to a loved and loving grandmother or grandfather.”

So I will celebrate my daughter’s life by loving her children even more.

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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  • Dear Harriet,

    Thanksgiving weekend will forever hold the sorrow and the hope with those precious grandchildren of yours. They will keep you young and spirited for sure.

    I can only say I am sorry for the loss of your daughter and I honor your hope this weekend, especially. You are amazing.

    Kind regards,
    Mary Jane

  • Dear Mary Jane,

    Thank you for reading my article and for your encouragement. A few days ago I met a friend I hadn’t seen for a year. She asked how I was doing and, since I didn’t want to tell my life story in the grocery store, I said I was “chugging along.” My use of the word chugging amused her, but I am chugging along, making progress and building a new future. Our family Thanksgiving was special, yet I still thought of my daughter. It will always be so.

    Harriet

  • Katie Frahm Eggert says:

    Dear Harriet,

    Your posts are heart wrenching and inspirational at the same time. I have a much better understanding of what you have endured after reading your beautiful articles.

    My thoughts are with you, John and the twins for all the best in 2010.

    With Love,
    Katie Eggert