In 2007, after my grandchildren lost both parents in separate car crashes, I remember what I said to them outside the hospital emergency room entrance. All of us, especially my twin grandchildren, were paralysed with shock. “You’re coming home with us,” I said. At that moment, I knew my life had changed. I had a new mission and it was sacred.

My husband and I shared this mission. We didn’t know where it would lead or the challenges we would face. Five years have passed since our grandchildren moved in with us and, though they are now legal adults, our mission continues.

The word sacred implies spirituality. What is it? Peg Thompson, PhD, a St. Paul, Minnesota psychotherapist, defines it in her book, Finding Your Own Spiritual Path. She thinks spirituality is “our connection with the sacred” and the act of applying these connections to daily life.

“Growth in the life of the spirit is essential to recovery,” she writes, and “each of us finds his or her spiritual path from within.” I agree with Thompson’s views and found my spiritual path to healing. But I also think I helped to create this path.

Spiritual growth is possible because humans are born with a miraculous component — the mind. We have the ability to question, to search, to experiment, to learn from experience. In order to do these things, we must recognize the spirituality in our lives. In other words, we have to be on “spirituality alert.”

Thompson lists a dozen spiritual things to watch for and each plays a role in recovery. They include an altered sense of time and place, heightened awarenss and concentration, recognizing the majesty of life and nature, wholeness and health, a sense of mystery, and what she calls “inexpressability.” As she writes, “When we meet the holy, we usually know it. . . . because spiritual experiences involve the whole of us and the unfathomaable depth and unimaginable breadth of the holy, we cannot fully capture them in words.”

I couldn’t capture all of the aspects of spirituality and grandparenting in my life, but I tried. Writing about my experiences helped me make sense of them. Meditating about my experiences also helped me. Looking back, I think Thompson is right when she says you and I find our spiritual paths. I think I’m right when I say we help to create them.

Still, I am careful with the word “recovery.” Just as I will never forget my deceased daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law, I will never forget the happiness they brought to my life. I am not a substitute parent, I am a grandmother, loving my grandchildren, caring for them, encouraging them, protecting them, and ensuring their futures. For me, each day is a spiritual day, and each writing project is a spiritual one.

Please be on the lookout for the spirituality in your life. Use it to make your days better. Spirituality is an individual journey and, as Peg Thompson explains, it “will continue as long as you live. Everything in your life has the potential to deepen your relationship with the sacred.”


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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