Your Light in the Darkness of Winter and Grief

During the darkest time of the year many string lights on Christmas trees, light menorah candles, and decorate outdoor trees with lights. But if you’re grieving, you may not pay attention to the lights or have the energy to decorate for the holidays. You may think your light has gone out.

It hasn’t. Your light – the talents, training and experience you possess – is still within you. These gifts have not disappeared. Instead, they lie fallow and are waiting to grow again. How can you rekindle your light and share it?

Connecting with a spiritual community is a good starting point. According to Peg Thompson, PhD, author of “Finding Your Own Spiritual Path,” a spiritual community provides “companions for the journey.” Later in her book Thompson writes, “Through community, we are encouraged, taught, and nourished by others.”

Participating in rituals may also help. I participated in The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday of December. As bereaved parents light candles, a virtual wave of light goes around the globe. The candles stay lit for an hour. Looking at the candle flame reminded me of how much my daughter loved Christmas. More important, it reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my grief.

Giving is another way to share your light. When you hear the word “giving” money may be the first thought that comes to mind. While monetary donations are always appreciated, “giving” has a broader meaning, and includes sharing your gifts. You may play the piano, mentor a new employee, or volunteer for community organizations. My brother loved books and I serve on a library board in his memory.

Caring is yet another way to share your light. In order to care for others, I know I must take care of myself. I eat a balanced diet, exercise daily, and make sure I get enough quiet time. For me, caring also means answering posts from Open to Hope parents who have lost an older child. Writing for free is another way I show I care.

Telling your story may give others hope. Bereaved people, especially the newly bereaved, are in desperate need of assurance. They need to know life gets better and happiness is possible. You may give talks about identifying your grief work, doing this work, and what led you to your recovery path. I gave a lay sermon at my church describing the ways I said yes to life. Afterwards a person came up to me and exclaimed, “I wanted to stand up and cheer.”

Writing is one of the best ways to share your light. When I attended the national conference of The Compassionate Friends in Bloomington, Minnesota, I was amazed at the number of bereaved parents who had written books, were currently writing them, or planning to write them. Some were fortunate enough to find a publisher and others self-published their work.

You light is within you even in grief. An old Gospel hymn describes this light and one verse says, “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine.” You can light the dark days of winter, your own life, and the lives of others. I hope you shine brightly.


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Harriet Hodgson

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Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA has been an independent journalist for more than 35+ years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the MN Coalition for Death Education and Support. Hodgson writes for and has earned top status. A prolific author, she is the author of hundreds of articles and 31 books. All of her writing comes from experience and heer recent books focus on grief recovery: * Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss * The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul * 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope * Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life * Writing to Recover Journal (with 100 writing prompts) * Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, co-author In 2007, after her daughter's death and former son-in-law's death, she became a GRG, grandparent raising grandchildren. Her latest book, Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids: Grandparents Adapting to Life's Surprise, came from this experience. In addition to writing books, Hodgson is a columnist for "Caregiving in America" magazine and Assistant Editor of ADEC Connects, the electronic newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. A popular speaker, Hodgson has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer's, hospice, and grief conferences. She has appeared on more than 160 talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations/programs, including CNN. Her work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors and other directories. She lives in Rochester, MN with her husband and twin grandchildren. Please visit for more information about this busy author and grandmother. Books by Harriet Hodgson The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope, available from Amazon, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, Writing to Recover Journal, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon. Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, Co-Author, available from Amazon,

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