By Harriet Hodgson —

Religion means different things to different people. When someone dies, it is common to turn to religion and spirituality for support. In 2007, four of my loved ones died in the span of nine months. I turned to my church and my inner self. Week after week, I sat quietly on the couch and thought about my loved ones and my life.

If you are grieving now, I urge you to do the same thing. Quiet is essential to recovery. You will not make any progress until you organize your thoughts, center (focus) them, and heed them.

Bettyclare Moffatt makes this point in her book, “Soulwork: Clearing the Mind, Opening the Heart, Replenishing the Spirit.” Listening involves self-searching, self-finding, and self-awareness, according to Moffatt. Doing these things leads us to the question, “How do I get to God?” Moffatt’s answer is to listen. When we listen intently, we are ready to let the “soul-self predominate.”

Once the soul-self predominates, Moffatt thinks we are ready to trust and listen to God. She says everyone has the spark of God inside them. This spark can become a transforming flame. “Listen!” she exclaims. “It is God in action in your life.”

Ever since my loved ones died, I have been listening intently to my soul. Of course, I asked myself lots of questions and most began with the word “why.” But I realized “why” questions were a waste of time. So I thought about the blessings in my life, healing steps I could take, and the future that awaited me.

Robert Bolton, PhD, would call this?reflective listening, a process he describes in his book, “People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts.” Reflective listening can be talking to yourself, Bolton notes, and “it is important to listen carefully enough to yourself to arrive at a sound conclusion.”

But Bolton says many of us “scarcely listen” or run into roadblocks when we talk to ourselves. All is not lost. “More hopefully, you can reflect on the content and especially the feelings of your conversations to yourself.”? The conversations I had with myself helped me identify feelings and see where they might lead me. I found a new appreciation for the sacredness of life.

Each day is a spiritual day for me. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner discusses life’s tragedies in “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” When tragedy strikes, he does not think it is punishment. Rather, he thinks bad things are part of the randomness of life. Instead of dwelling on tragedy, Kushner thinks we should ask ourselves what we are going to do about it.

After a loved one dies, you have two choice — give up on life or live if fully. I voted for life. I write grief articles and books to help others. The major focus of my life is my new mission, a sacred mission of raising my grandchildren. Seeing life as sacred may help you cope with loss. Listen to your soul. It will prod you, challenge you, and lead you to a new life. That is a miracle.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson

http://www.harriethodgson.comHarriet Hodgson 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. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska has published her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life.” The company has also published a companion resource, the “Writing to Recover Journal,” which has 100 writing prompts.

Please visit Harriet’s Website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

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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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