This excerpt is from Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief by Harriet Hodgson, BS,  MA and Lois Krahn, MD, available from Amazon.

Early grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Though anticipatory grief is the correct medical term for this process, it’s a mouthful to say and read, so we use early grief instead.

Early grief may strike at any time and for different reasons. You may grieve for an aging parent who suffered a debilitating stroke. You may grieve when you find out that your company is downsizing and, according to the rumor mill, 150 jobs will be cut. You may grieve when you and your partner start divorce proceedings.

You may not recognize early grief when it’s happening, and that’s OK. Confronting feelings is often painful and you may come up with excuses to explain your feelings. You may tell yourself that you’re overtired, overworked, and feeling blue. Sure, early grief can make you tired, muddle your mind, and make you feel blue,  but it’s more complicated than that. Research findings suggest that early grief is as raw and powerful as “normal” grief. That makes it a big deal. You may feel early grief if your:

  • Baby is born with a heart defect
  • Teenager is hooked on drugs
  • Loved one is in the military and receives orders for a combat zone
  • Retirement date is approaching
  • Dear friend is dying of AIDS
  • Parent is in hospice
  • Life involves caring for the chronically or terminally ill
  • Government raises the terror alert

Smiling Through Your Tears focuses on early grief before death and guides you through the process. It’s designed to be reader-friendly Each chapter begins with a quotation to help you focus your thoughts. Topical headings guide you through  the text. Stories from people who’ve experienced early grief bring research findings to life. Healing steps—114 of them in all—are printed in bold within the text and summarized at the end of the chapters.

One-by-one, thee healing steps lead you to your healing path. The reading time for the book is about three hours. You don’t have to read it all at one sitting. Read the parts you need most and save the rest for later. Tears are cleansing and if you feel like crying while you read, go ahead and do it. Early grief is part of the human experience. Though you can’t avoid it, you can get through it, and create a new and meaningful life.


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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