Giving Yourself Away – A Source of Comfort When You’re Grieving

My daughter loved Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was special because she was born on this day. Christmas gave her a chance to give to others, even though she had little money. In her younger years, when she didn’t have twins to care for and her job as an engineer, family members often received homemade gifts.

These are happy memories for me, yet the prospect of a new year, can be melancholy. Life isn’t the same without my daughter and the other family members who died in 2007: my father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law. I loved them and counted on their support and now they are gone.

Grieving the loss of four family members has been daunting. Sometimes it has been confusing. It takes me a few hours or days to figure out which family member I am grieving for and identify my feelings. Still, I haven’t shirked my grief work and have kept at it. Doing this work has made immensely.

More than three years have passed since my family members died. Though grief isn’t as acute as it used to be, it remains an undercurrent in my life. As the years pass, however, I find that giving helps me most.
Giving to others helps me heal.

A few years ago, if you had told me I was going to write five books about grief, I would have said you were delusional. But that is exactly what happened. I wrote about my deceased loved ones and the challenges of coping with multiple losses. Writing forced me to think deeply, face my pain, and stick up for myself. I refused to be crushed by tragedy.

Others have reached the same conclusion. I asked an editor who is familiar with grief to write a back cover review for one of my books. She wrote a beautiful review and added added a comment about giving reviews away for authors to use as the wish. Grief books are the current focus of my resume.

I’ve been giving the books away. So far, I’ve given books to friends who are grieving, two churches, a local hospice, and AA. My daughter was an AA member and I think she would be pleased with my actions. According to an AA contact, one of my books is a perfect fit for the women’s group.

When I give books away, in a sense, I’m giving myself away. You may find comfort by giving yourself away. Are you willing to listen to other bereaved parents? Can your expertise help a struggling organization to survive? Will telling your grief story help others who are grieving?

When we give ourselves away, we are saying yes to life. We are also saying, “I’m healing and ready to trust again.” Giving is an act of self-trust, trusting that you have things to give, trusting that you can handle emotional pain. Worrying about the future is a waste of energy and we can invest it in giving instead.

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson

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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  • Sonja says:

    May God bless you Harriet
    I have lost many family members over the past few years including my husband 5 years ago and my only son 18 in a car accident 6 weeks ago… I am a giver not a taker and I know that I will find the strength like you to go on and live a useful life by “giving myself away” to others… But I needed to read your words to confirm it..
    Thank you x

  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Sonja, dear, I am so sorry to hear of your loss,es, especially the death of your son. Though we can’t control life events, we can control our responses to them. Writing books is how I give myself away. Be patient with yourself; you will figure out how to gve yourself away in your own time.
    Virtual hugs from Harriet

  • Regina says:

    Dear Harriet,
    This is the second article I have read by you. I stumbled across Open to Hope in my search for comfort. Thank you so much for making them available. You give me hope and encourage me to actively work on my grief.
    I wish you continued strength and comfort
    How can I get hold of your books?
    Regina

  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Thanks for your comment and encouraging words. My books are available from http://www.amazon.com by entering my name. You may have to go to the next screen to see the latest one. The books are paperbacks and reasonably priced. I hope your days become easier and joy creeps back into your life.

    Harriet