An old Gospel hymn, “This Little Light of Mine,” talks about sharing your personal light. In the midst of grief, however, darkness may be all you see. You can’t envision a future or figure out how to get there. Worse, you may think your light has gone out forever.
It hasn’t. Your light — the talents, training, and experience you possess — is still within you. These gifts have not disappeared, but are fallow, waiting to grow again. How can you rekindle your light and share it?
Connecting with a spiritual community is a good place to start. According to Peg Thompson, PhD, author of Finding Your Own Spiritual Path, a spiritual community provides “companions for the journey.” Later on in her book, Thompson writes, “Through community, we are encouraged, taught, and nourished by others.” If you don’t have a spiritual community, now may be a good time to find one.
Participating in rituals may also help. I participated in The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting, held each year on the second Sunday of December at 7 p.m. As bereaved parents light candles in memory of their children, 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 mine. I give money to national organizations and you may do the same. 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 regularly, and make sure I get enough quiet time. For me, caring also means writing for a grief support website and answering posts from parents who have lost an older child. I also give away lots of writing, another way to 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 will get better and that happiness is possible. You may have crafted a new life, for example, a story worth sharing with others. Tell people how you identified your grief work, did this work, and what led you to your recovery path.
I think writing is one of the best ways to share your light. A few years ago I attended the national conference of The Compassionate Friends, a support organization for those who have lost a child. I was amazed at the number of parents who had written books, were currently writing them, or planning to write them. Some parents were fortunate enough to find a publisher and others self-published their work.
Your light is within you even in grief. As the second verse of the Gospel hymn says, “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine.” You can light the darkness of your own life and the lives of others. I hope you shine brightly!
Copyright 2012 Harriet Hodgson
Updated: April 11, 2013