Mother Finds Comfort Saying Daughter’s Name

Few ask how I’m doing these days. Friends have resumed their lives and so have I. Today, I’m living a new, meaningful and happy life. Yet there are times when the pain of losing my daughter in 2007 hits without warning. Suddenly, I am transported back in time and see terrible images from the hospital emergency room.

Since these mental pictures drag me down, I consciously switch my thoughts to positive pictures, such as my twin grandchildren graduating from high school. I’m glad I learned how and when to do this.

Though we all go through grief, Americans tend to avoid the topic. But talking about loss and grief helps mourners to recover. Judy Tatelbaum makes this point in her book, The Courage to Grieve. “Talking about death in natural conversation can be freeing, enabling us to accept death more fully as a fact of life,” she writes.

Tatelbaum thinks sharing our grief is crucial to recovery. “It is an opportunity to examine your own beliefs, feelings and experiences.” Death has taught me many things and one is that I need to say my daughter’s name. The Compassionate Friends, a national organization for parents and families that have lost a child, is one of the few places I can do this.

Why do I need to say my daughter’s name?

Talking about Helen is a way to keep her alive in my memory. Four years into the grief journey, I can tell stories about her without breaking down. Many stories generate laughter. One of my favorite stories involves my grandchildren’s pet hamster. Somehow, the hamster caught his tail in the cage, and he lost the tip of his tail. My engineer daughter re-attached the tip with super glue and it worked!

Saying my daughter’s name is a way to honor her accomplishments. Though she made self-defeating decisions in high school, she recognized them, and turned her life around. She became a nursing assistant, earned a two-year business degree, became a composite engineer, earned her MBA, and six special certifications for industry. Clearly, she was an accomplished woman who died too soon.

Saying my daughter’s name keeps her memory alive for her children. My twin grandchildren moved in with us after their parents were killed in separate car crashes. They were 15 years old at the time, stunned by grief, and lost. The court appointed my husband and me as their legal guardians. Our pledge then and now: Helen, we will not fail you.

As the years passed, the twins were able to tell stories about their mother. In fact, they love telling stories and hearing them. Recently I met a man who had worked with my daughter before she earned all of her degrees. He described her as a hard worker. I shared this story with my grandchildren and my granddaughter replied, “Of course!”

Though few ask how I’m doing, I tell them anyway. I tell them about Helen, all she accomplished in life, and about her marvelous twins. Her values live in them. I am proud to speak my daughter’s name aloud and proud to be her mother.

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson

More Articles Written by Harriet

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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  • sanaya says:

    lovelyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy poem

  • Laura Klouzek says:

    I understand the importance of saying my child’s name. Lucas was 33 when he died. He left behind 2 younger children, 5 and 7 at the time of his death. I have to speak his name to keep his memories alive for the times my grandsons need and want them. What a blessing.
    I will think of your Helen every time I hear that name, and know you are blessed by the remembrance.

  • Maureen Hunter says:

    So very true Harriet. Good on you for honouring your daughter and raising her children as her legacy and love to you – we never forget

  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you for thinking of my daughter when you hear the name, Helen. Saying my daughter’s name honors her and keeps her alive in my mind.

  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you for your comment. None of us will forget our loved ones and their contributions to our lives.

  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Dear Edith,
    Thank you for reading my article. Grief touches us all and I’m not concerned about distance or color. When I write grief resources, I have two goals: One, to share my life experience and two, to help others.

  • SPUER says:


  • Harriet Hodgson says:

    Thanks for your one-word “review.”


  • Amna says:

    Harriet, Its so true what you wrote. After Losing my 9 yr old last year, I just not talk about her but trying to help others so they donot have see & face what we share.Holding on the Faith it still some time bacome so hard & I just keep calling her name.I thank you for such a nice post.

  • Thank you for reading it Anna. I’m truly sorry for your loss and hope the weeks and months and years gradually get better for you.