Grief is exhausting. You may be tired of feeling helpless and hopeless, yet don’t know what to do. Hope eluded me after my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law died within nine months. Hope seemed to have disappeared, but I found it again in caring for my twin grandkids and taking proactive steps. Here are my suggestions for feeling happy again.

Choose happiness. Again and again, I told myself, “I’m worthy of happiness.” Saying this sentence helped me to believe it. I also believed in myself and the coping skills I had honed over the years. You are also worthy of happiness and, if you take some proactive steps, you will find it. Choosing happiness changes your outlook on life — your thinking, actions, and plans.

Take care of your health. Healthy food is brain food. In fact, a balanced diet can change your thinking. With this thought in mind, I fixed balanced, made-from-scratch meals for my family. My husband and I stuck to our routine of going to bed at 10 p.m. Walking in the neighborhood also boosted our spirits. Bettyclare Moffatt cites the benefits of running in her book, Soullwork. “Releasing, I am releasing now. Good-bye to all cares, all worries, all obstacles, all impediments, all fears,” she writes.

Take care of your spiritual self. Some bereaved people avoid quiet in an attempt to escape pain and fear. Not me. I made quiet time part of each day. This time helped me identify problems and find solutions to them. In the quiet you will find the courage you need to move forward with life. Taking care of your spiritual self may include attending religious services, volunteering in your community, and giving to others.

Write your story. Bereaved people need to share their story and say the names of their loved ones aloud. You may write your story in a journal, diary, short stories, articles, and books. The act of telling you story relieves some of the tension you’ve been feeling and may help others. Giving workshops and grief recovery talks are other ways to share your story.

As your life journey continues you will identify other proactive steps and take them. When all is said in done, you are responsible for your own happiness. Like the sun rising on a spring morning, light will seep into your life and brighten it anew.


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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