Grief is a dark place, so dark you wonder if you will ever see light again. While you’re grieving, you are struggling to find your way through a long tunnel of darkness and there is no light ahead. You wonder if you will survive. Maybe you won’t find your way out of the tunnel, a terrible thought, and one that adds to your sorrow. Courageous as you have been in the past, you wonder if you have the courage to face this new challenge.

It a life without a loved one worth living? Although you’re trying as hard as you can, you may feel mired in grief, and unable to escape its grip. You would feel better if you could see some signs of progress, and the list that follows contains many signs. Give yourself credit for each one because all of the steps you take, large and small, eventually count. The day will come when you realize you are moving forward on the recovery path. Watch for these indications.

  • You don’t cry as much.
  • You can tell your story without sobbing.
  • You laugh again, although your laughter feels rusty.
  • You have your first belly laugh.
  • You are aware of the outside world again.
  • You attend your first support group meeting.
  • You continue to go to support group meetings.
  • You want to help others.
  • You think about establishing  a memorial.
  • You make a life change in honor of your loved one.
  • You welcome quiet.
  • You can be peacefully alone.
  • You choose to live and enjoy the miracle of life.
  • You remember your loved one and smile.

People have similar grief symptoms, yet each journey is unique, and no grief journey is like yours. As someone who experienced four deaths in six months, including the death of my daughter–mother of my twin grandchildren–I can assure you that sunshine will return to your life. Your loved one would want you to be happy. So make the conscious decision now, at this moment, to let happiness back into your life. Do this in memory of your loved one. You are worthy of happiness and can claim it for yourself.

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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 www.harriethodgson.com.

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