Six Steps to Regaining Balance After a Loss

After a loved one dies you’re overwhelmed with contradictory feelings. You have trouble sleeping and feelings you didn’t know you keep you awake for hours. At least, that is my experience after four family members, my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law, in 2007.

Hymns, poems, novels and stories have been written about the quest for peace. Though religious and spiritual beliefs can contribute to peace, in the long run, peace is something we grant to ourselves. In order to survive the grief journey we must make peace with many things. Doing this can be the biggest challenge of our lives.

We make peace with family discord. We accept lost dreams. We come to terms with life without a loved one. Sooner or later, we make peace with life. How can you find peace? Six steps helped me and they may help you.

Step one is facing emotional pain. Avoiding pain will only make grief last longer. My husband and I had to accept the pain of losing a daughter to blunt force trauma. Nobody wants acknowledge their child died htis way but, over time, we managed to do it.

Step two is embracing quiet. This is one of the hardest steps you can take. Many mourners rush from one thing to another to avoid quiet because they don’t want to “hear” their thoughts. But it is only in quiet that you learn about yourself, identify problems, and work out solutions. Building quiet time into each day helps you find peace.

Step three is identifying your grief work. Quiet time will help you do this and so will discussions with family members, religious advisors, and grief counselors. After our twin grandchildren lost their parents in separate car crashes, my husband and I became GRGs –grandparents raising grandchildren — and we divided our duties. He handled legal and financial matters, I managed the household and teen schedules.

Step four is critical to survival: Be kind to yourself. We tried to be kind to ourselves each day. If we were exhausted from crying we took short naps. Driving was one of our main concerns and we worried about having yet another crash. To avoid this, we used a buddy system, and took turns being the driver and the lookout.

Step five is to meditate and pray. Your definition of meditation and prayer may be different from mine and that doesn’t matter. What matters is taking care of your soul. Doing this will help you survive this dark time of life and see a bright future ahead.

Step six is possible after you’ve done lots of grief work: Help others. This step has enabled me to reconcile my losses and create a new life. I help others by donating money to local organizations, giving food to the local food shelves, speaking for free, giving my grief books to hospices and churches, serving on committees, and mentoring other writers.

With planning, purpose, and the passage of time, peace is an attainable goal. I hope peace comes to you.

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson

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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