“Mom, we didn’t move into the pub,” my daughter laughed, “we went there to cool off and eat.”  No wonder my memory was hazy.  My husband and I were still recovering from the loss of our elder daughter, my father-in-law, my brother, and our former son-in-law.  Four deaths in nine months were overwhelming.

The pub topic came up during a family dinner at a French restaurant.  We were reminiscing about a trip we and our younger daughter had taken to London and the Isle of Man.  I told the story about calling the hotel desk clerk to report the lack of air conditioning and his reply, “It hasn’t worked for 10 years.”  The story sent my daughter into gales of laughter and I laughed with her.

I had ordered scallops, stir fried vegetables, and a glass of white wine.  As I sipped the wine, savored the food, and swapped stories with my daughter, I thought to myself, “This feels so good.”  Our waiter, who had been hovering in the background, asked if I wanted another glass of wine.

“I’m thinking about it,” I replied.  He moved away discreetly and our story-telling continued.

“Mom said we could walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum from our hotel,” my daughter recalled.  “She didn’t tell me it was four miles down and four miles back.  It’s a shock to realize your mother is in better condition than you are!”  We laughed so hard I thought we might be asked to leave.

The waiter approached again.  “Another glass of wine?” he asked.  I said I was still thinking.  The stories continued all through dinner.  My husband joined the story telling and we talked about our British and Manx heritage.  As the waiter cleared our dishes he asked, “Another glass of wine?”

“Still thinking,” I said, and patted his hand.  We ordered coffee and I decided to skip dessert.  But when the waiter brought my coffee he also brought Crème Brule.  “This is for you,” he said with a smile.  I was very surprised and thanked him.  Why had he given me a free dessert?

Maybe he thought the “still thinking” reply was a running joke.  Seeing family members enjoy one another may have given him pleasure.  I didn’t know the reason behind his gesture, but knew I hadn’t laughed like this in two years.  Thanks to lots of grief work, I was feeling good again, raising my grandchildren and living a new life.  The time had come to honor my deceased loved ones in a special way and I created Action Memorials©, a process of identifying the deceased person’s positive traits and weaving them into daily life.

My daughter had a marvelous sense of humor, so I decided to laugh more.  My father-in-law was an ethical person, so I pledged to stand up for ethics.  My brother loved to read, so I promised myself more recreational reading time.  My former son-in-law loved nature, so I vowed to observe it more closely.  Action Memorials have changed my life.

First, they shifted my thinking from negative to positive and continue to do this.  Second, they link me with my loved ones every day.  I often think about that wonderful dinner because it was a turning point in my grief journey.  Powerful as grief had been, it was no longer powerful enough to quell the joy of belly laughs and Crème Brule.

Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA,  has been an independent journalist for 30 years.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.  She writes for www.ezinearticles.com and has Expert Author and Platinum status.  A prolific writer, Hodgson is the author of hundreds of Internet and print articles and 27 books.

All of Hodgson’s writing comes from experience and her recent work focuses on grief.  She is the author of Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, an Amazon book, written with Lois Krahn, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Mayo Clinic, in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.

Hodgson is also the author of Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, published by Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, a nationally-known grief resource center.  Centering Corporation has also published the Writing to Recover Journal, which contains 100 writing prompts, and the Writing to Recover Affirmations Calendar, a collection of nature photos and life affirmations.

A popular speaker, Hodgson has given presentations at Alzheimer’s, hospice, and public health conferences.  She has appeared on more than 160 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, WCCO Radio and “Coping With Caregiving,” an Internet-only radio program broadcast worldwide.  Hodgson has also appeared on dozens of television programs/stations, including CNN.

Her work is cited in Something About the Author, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, Contemporary Authors, and the next edition of World Who’s Who of Women.    Hodgson is a GRG – grandparent raising grandchildren – and lives in Rochester, MN with her husband John and her twin grandchildren.  For more information on this busy author and grandmother go to www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet was on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart, discussing Recovery from Grief with hosts Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley.  To hear this show, go to the following link:


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Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 43 years, is the author of thousands of articles, and 42 books, including 10 grief resources. She is Assistant Editor of the Open to Hope website, a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Alliance of Independent Authors, Minnesota Coalition for Grief Education and Support, and Grief Coalition of Southeastern Minnesota. She is well acquainted with grief. In 2007 four 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 healing. She has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, 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 The Compassionate Friends national conference, Bereaved Parents of the USA national conference, and Zoom grief conferences. Her 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 grandmother, great grandmother, author, and speaker please visit www.harriethodgson.com.

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