Raising my Twin Grandchildren: Endings and Beginnings

After our elder daughter was killed in a car crash and our former son-in-law died in another car crash, my husband and I became GRGs – grandparents raising grandchildren.  Wow, did our lives change!  We are back to booming rock music, school concerts, ringing phones, text messages and emails, sleepovers, and school trips.

Since I had been cooking for two so long, it took me several months to adjust to cooking for teens again.  I go to the grocery store every other day and am cooking constantly.  Teen slang has changed drastically and I had to learn new words to communicate with my grandchildren.  I had to learn about new teenage customs, too, such as the boy’s prom tie matching his date’s dress.

Our grandchildren were 15 ½ when they moved in with us; they turned 18 in February.  In a few weeks we are scheduled to appear in county court.  The purpose of the hearing is to end our status as the twin’s legal guardians.  But my grandparenting will continue, for the end of my guardianship is, in many ways, a new beginning.

From now on, I will be interacting with two legal adults.  Though I will modify my grandparenting, my mission to protect, nurture, and love my grandchildren will be the same.  This has become clear in recent months, as the twins applied to colleges, evaluated them, chose their schools, and made plans for the future.  Each day, the twins seem more mature and that is satisfying.

I have matured as well.  Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, PhD, write about the growth that can come from grief in their book, “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye.”  They think grief “can manifest itself, by choice, as growth,” a view I agree with wholeheartedly.  The authors think mourners may create a meaningful new life by sharing their struggles, a suggestion I followed.

Bruce Campbell writes about creating a new life after loss in his article, “Ten Keys to Successful Coping: Key 10, Move Beyond Loss to Build a New Life,” posted on the CFIDS and Fibromyalgia website.  To create a new life, Campbell says you need to focus on the future, have realistic expectations, nourish yourself, cultivate a sense of gratitude, and create new meaning.  “Helping others shifts you from preoccupation with your situation and your suffering, and gives a sense of new meaning,” he writes.

Becoming a GRG created new meaning for my life.  How do I see the future?  The twins need a home to return to, so my husband and I plan to stay in our home until our grandchildren graduate from college, and maybe longer.  I see my grandchildren exploring new ideas, learning new things, making new friends, and finding a soul mate.  I see us attending family events, planning weddings and, if we live long enough, holding our great grandchildren in our arms.

The court ruling will not change my sacred mission of being a GRG.  All of life is a series of endings and new beginnings.

Harriet Hodgson

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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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