Spiritual Women Help Grieving Friends

Last week I gave a talk at a local church about spiritual women helping each other.  The talk came from my own experience of losing four family members in 2007.  My handout showed the “bones” of my talk and helped audience members to follow along.  What were the points of my talk?

Spiritual women offer comfort.  When I was lost in the darkness of grief my sister-in-law kept saying, “You will get through this.”  I appreciated her reassurance.  Other friends said they were praying for me.  Three small words, “I’m so sorry,” comforted me as well. 

Spiritual women stay in touch.  Early in the grief journey you receive lots of help – sympathy cards, bouquets, and casseroles galore.  But help wanes quickly because people need to return to their own lives.  Helping women stay in touch with emails, phone calls, and cards.  A small group of friends stayed in touch with me and their support was energizing.

Spiritual women listen.  Bereaved people need to talk about their feelings, something that is hard to do in a culture that avoids death.  My close friends, however, gave me the gift of listening.  They asked prompting questions that allowed me to verbalize my feelings and concerns. 

Spiritual woman are specific.  You hear the sentence time and again: “If you need anything, just give me a call.”  The person who is grieving may not call because he or she doesn’t want to intrude in your life.  Be specific when you offer to help.  For example, “I’m going to the grocery store this morning.  Give me your list and I’ll shop for you.”

Spiritual women give back.  I pass on the kindness I’ve received by donating to the food bank in memory of my daughter, giving free talks, writing grief resources, and mentoring new writers.  Giving back gets you “outside” yourself and moves you forward on the recovery path.

Spiritual women practice self-care.  You can’t care for your family, your children, your grandchildren, or others, unless you take care of yourself.  This means you eat right, build physical activity into your days, and get enough sleep.  Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s common sense.

Spiritual women meditate and pray.  Some mourners become super-busy to escape their thoughts.  It doesn’t work.  To recover from grief you need to face the quiet and yourself.  In the quiet of your soul you will find the solutions you are seeking.

Of course, these points are true of spiritual men as well.  We help because we care and that makes life brighter for us all.

Harriet Hodgson 2011

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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