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Grief Recovery - Learning to Trust Life Again

Harriet Hodgson

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Death shook my trust in life. After losing four loved ones I did not think I would ever trust life again. Lack of trust turned my life into an exercise in existence, rather than an adventure. I did not want to exist, I wanted to dive into life and enjoy it to the fullest. How could I learn to trust life again?

Learning about grief helped a lot. I learned about normal grief, complex grief, delayed grief, and more. Despite the multiple losses I had suffered my grief seemed pretty normal. People who read ezine articles may rate them and comment about them. A reader commented on one of my grief articles. “It is apparent that you are still educating yourself regardless of your present knowledge about grief, " she said. “Those in grief would make their journey so much easier if they followed suit. "

Trust is a personal thing and a group thing. Daniel Goleman discusses group trust in his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ. " When an unexpected problem comes up in business, Goleman says people turn to “trust networks. " One might think these networks include experts only, but that is not the case. “There is virtually no reationship between an expert and being seen as someone people can trust with their secrets, doubts, and vulnerabilities, " explains Goleman.

Close friends were my trust network and when I look back I can see how much I relied on them. I am blessed to have a close circle of friends. During the grief process friends were honest with me and gentle with me. Their honesty and gentleness continue as I near the two-year marker of my grief journey.

If I was going to craft a new life - a creative, productive, satisfying life - I had to learn to trust again. In the epilogue of her book, “The Courage to Grieve, " Judy Tatlebaum writes about re-gaining trust. When I read the epilogue I felt like it was written just for me. “In order to survive we must learn to face loss and grief fully, " notes Tatlebaum, “and to trust that we can recover and re-creative out lives. "

Trust is the necessary work of life.

But my ability to trust life has come from my twin grandchildren. In her will my daughter named my husband and me as the children's legal guardians. This clause an act of trust. Our daughter trusted us as parents and grandparents and we are humbled by it Sure, life was awkward when the twins first moved in with us, but it is normal now. We have conversations with them, laugh with them, and plan with them.

Last week I met a friend at the grocery store. “How are the twins doing?" he asked.

"I'm not sure how it happened, " I replied, “but somehow we have become a family. " This response generated a huge smile.

"You can spell that with five letters, " he said. My mind raced forward and I wondered which letters of the alphabet he had in mind. Was he going to spell out swear words? Hardly. “You spell it T-R-U-S-T, " he said. My friend is right. My grandchildren's trust in me has restored my trust in life. Life is an adventure again.

Copyright 2008 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from

Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska - North America's oldest and largest grief resource center - has published her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life. " The company has also published two companion grief resources, the “Writing to Recover Jounal, " which contains 100 writing affirmations, and the “Writing to Recover Affirmations Calendar, " which contains life affirmations.

Please visit Harriet's website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.


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