During the darkest time of the year many string lights on Christmas trees, light menorah candles, and decorate outdoor trees with lights. But if you’re grieving, you may not pay attention to the lights or have the energy to decorate for the holidays. You may think your light has gone out.

It hasn’t. Your light – the talents, training and experience you possess – is still within you. These gifts have not disappeared. Instead, they lie fallow and are waiting to grow again. How can you rekindle your light and share it?

Connecting with a spiritual community is a good starting point. According to Peg Thompson, PhD, author of “Finding Your Own Spiritual Path,” a spiritual community provides “companions for the journey.” Later in her book Thompson writes, “Through community, we are encouraged, taught, and nourished by others.”

Participating in rituals may also help. I participated in The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday of December. As bereaved parents light candles, a virtual wave of light goes around the globe. The candles stay lit for an hour. Looking at the candle flame reminded me of how much my daughter loved Christmas. More important, it reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my grief.

Giving is another way to share your light. When you hear the word “giving” money may be the first thought that comes to mind. While monetary donations are always appreciated, “giving” has a broader meaning, and includes sharing your gifts. You may play the piano, mentor a new employee, or volunteer for community organizations. My brother loved books and I serve on a library board in his memory.

Caring is yet another way to share your light. In order to care for others, I know I must take care of myself. I eat a balanced diet, exercise daily, and make sure I get enough quiet time. For me, caring also means answering posts from Open to Hope parents who have lost an older child. Writing for free is another way I show I care.

Telling your story may give others hope. Bereaved people, especially the newly bereaved, are in desperate need of assurance. They need to know life gets better and happiness is possible. You may give talks about identifying your grief work, doing this work, and what led you to your recovery path. I gave a lay sermon at my church describing the ways I said yes to life. Afterwards a person came up to me and exclaimed, “I wanted to stand up and cheer.”

Writing is one of the best ways to share your light. When I attended the national conference of The Compassionate Friends in Bloomington, Minnesota, I was amazed at the number of bereaved parents who had written books, were currently writing them, or planning to write them. Some were fortunate enough to find a publisher and others self-published their work.

You light is within you even in grief. An old Gospel hymn describes this light and one verse says, “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine.” You can light the dark days of winter, your own life, and the lives of others. I hope you shine brightly.



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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