I have talked with many people about grief. Several years ago I interviewed a young widow about the anticipatory grief she felt during her husband’s terminal illness. Her story was compelling. As death drew closer the couple drew closer. “We went to a special place,” she said. “I can’t explain it.”

Thanks to life experience, grief research, and my writing career, I understood her description. But I did not understand it fully until four of my loved ones died within nine months. The pain of these losses was searing. Listening to my inner voice, or soul, helped me to cope.

For two years I was in close touch with my inner voice. Then it started to fade. Clearly, I needed to recharge my spirit. How could I do it? As I usually do, I researched the topic. People have different names for their inner voice. Some refer to it as God within them. Others call it the soul or inner voice. Still others call it intuition.

Claudette Rowley, MSW, CPPS, describes intuition in her article, “Five Pathways to Your Inner Voice,” published on he Metavoice Website. She thinks gut feelings contain a wealth of information. “Remember, your intuition is never wrong,” she notes, “although your interpretation of it may be incorrect.” When intuition calls, Rowley says you should trust it.

I also read an article by Sharon Kelly West, RN, published in the April 2009 issue of “The Forum,” the printed newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her article, ‘”Sharon, do you know who we are?'” is about cultural awareness in end-of-life nursing. According to West, three principles are essential to culturally appropriate nursing care: look, listen, and feel.

These principles may be applied to grief and I started with the first one. I looked at my relationship with each deceased family member. There were good things, bad things, and things I wished I could change. Next, I listened to my inner voice and it was hard. My days were always busy, but now that I am raising my teenage grandchildren, they are super busy. I had to schedule quiet time, erase extra thoughts from my mind, and focus on one.

Last, I moved on to feelings. Thinking about feelings and memories made me see that pain caused me to lose contact with my inner voice. I had been through so much pain and didn’t want any more. But painful feelings may help us see life more clearly, according to Bettyclare Moffatt, author of “Soulwork: Clearing the Mind, Opening the Heart, Replenishing the Spirit.

Moffatt tells a story about visiting her cousin’s husband in the hospital. He was recovering from surgery and in pain, so he asked her for a massage. She massaged the non-surgical side of his body and an emotional connection flowed between them. Moffatt left the hospital, got into her car, “and cried old numb, hurt places within me back to life.” Pain made her feel totally alive.

Carol Staudacher writes about recovering from grief in “A Time to Grieve: Meditations for Healing After the Death of a Loved One.” “We cannot discover or heal by the use of minds alone,” she says. “The brain must follow the heart at a respectful distance.” I am doing this. Each day I stop for a few minutes, quiet my thoughts, and listen to my inner voice. I am alive and this day is mine!

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson


Harriet 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 resouce, the “Writing to Recover Journal,” which contains 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 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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