Today — February 23, 2010 – is third anniversary of my daughter’s death.  She died from the injuries she received in a car crash.  I have conflicting feelings: sorrow that will be with me always, and a sense of accomplishment about raising my grandchildren.  The instant we learned their father had died in another car crash, my husband and I told the twins they were coming home with us.

Weeks later, the court appointed us as their legal guardians and fiscal conservators.

Should I mention the third anniversary of their mother’s death to the twins?  Though they were sleepy when they sat down at the breakfast table, I could tell they were in a good mood, as they talked about their plans for the day.  Making them grieve more than they already have made no sense, so I kept my feelings to myself.

So much has happened in the last three years.

The twins are straight A students.  Both of them were inducted into the National Honor Society.  In a few weeks, my granddaughter will receive the Girl Scout Gold Award.  My grandson has been accepted at the University of Minnesota and wants to be a scientist.  My granddaughter has received acceptance letters from four colleges and narrowed her choice down to two.  She thinks she will major in communications, but isn’t quite sure.

My grandson works part-time at a local discount store.  Unlike some teenagers, he doesn’t spend his money on foolish stuff.  His wages – money he is earning for college – go straight into his bank account.  The twins are excellent money managers, even a bit frugal.  Last week, they turned 18 and we had a family dinner to celebrate this milestone.  Now that they are legal adults, the twins have taken over the management of their finances.  “You can pay us an allowance,” I joked.

Conflicting feelings are painful, yet they help me see the truth: The twins are the ones who deserve credit for their achievements.  They are the ones who grappled with sorrow.  They are the ones who adjusted to living with senior citizens.  They are the ones who set goals and worked to achieve them.  My grandchildren are amazing young adults and I am proud to be their grandmother.  On this day, the third anniversary of my daughter’s death, I can say, with sureness and gladness, “Their mother taught them well.”

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Harriet Hodgson

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

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