Restoring stability and balance after a death may be the biggest challenge of your life. Balance is what I wanted after four family members died within nine months. Other family members had died and, though I was familiar with loss, this time was different. Grieving for multiple losses is harder than grieving for one and I often went backwards on the recovery path.

Finally, I realized I was grieving for family members in the order they died. Months passed and I knew I was making progress, but stability eluded me, and I was on constant alert for more tragedy. What is stability?

The “Dictionary of Psychology” contains several definitions and one is “the personality characteristic of being relatively free from radical changes in mood.” That it was I wanted and, thankfully, I found it. I think stability and balance are personal goals and we can manage our lives to achieve them. Grief didn’t stop me from envisioning a future and setting new goals.

Bob Deits discusses goals in his book, “Life After Loss: A Practical Guide to Renewing Your Life After Experiencing Major Loss.” He advises mourners to set seven-day, ninety-day, and one-year goals. Choose one goal from each group, Deits continues, and write down how you will know you have achieved it. Doing this will make you feel more in control of your life.

As you cross off goals, you may wonder if they will restore balance to your life. Natalie A. Gahrmann, in her MomMD website article, “A Balanced Life,” says balance comes from being whole and complete. She offers these tips for restoring balance:
1. Focus on your priorities.
2. Get organized.
3. Be flexible.
4. Create daily routines.
5. Establish support networks.
6. Simplify your life.

Gahrmann’s suggestions are for work-life balance, but they may be applied to grief recovery. You can identify your top priority. With help from family members, you can get organized. Grief has forced you to be flexible and you may as well go with the flow. If you have a daily routine, stick with it. Tap your existing support network and, if you don’t have one, get help from your religious community or other support services. Take steps to simplify your life.

Ever since we married, my husband and I have worked as a team and we approached grief the same way. But organization was a problem because we were dealing with four estates. Still, we kept plugging along and doing the required legal work. I stuck to our routine, serving meals at the usual times and going to bed at the same time. I turned to friends for help and received more than I dreamed. As for simplifying my life, I did what I thought was necessary and let the rest go.

These steps gave me a sense of peace they can do the same for you. Don’t give up. Take care of yourself and, if life is too chaotic, get professional help. Life is dark now, but there is light ahead, and happiness is waiting for you.

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson

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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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