Setting new goals helps you continue your grief journey.
I learned this lesson from experience.
After my daughter and father-in-law died on the same February weekend I started thinking about goals.
Thinking was hard because I was overcome with grief and stress.
The loss of a child, no matter what their age, is devastating and my first goal was to make it to the next hour.
Then I vowed to make it through the morning, through an afternoon, and through an entire day.
I worked on these goals and was making progress when my brother had a heart attack and died.
Three loved ones were gone forever.
In November of the same year my former son-in-law died suddenly, a tragedy that made my trin grandchildren orphans.
Instantly, my goals shifted from me to my grandchildren -- my top priority.
The Cancer Net website discusses priorities and goals in its article, "Coping with Change After a Loss.
" Death changes your life and, according to the article, "It may also be necessary to change priorities for practical reasons.
" My twin grandchildren were 15 1/2 when they moved in with my husband and me.
At first my goals for them were basic: cook healthy meals, get them settled, and research counseling options.
As the months passed these goals grew to include supporting school activities, helping with homework (when asked), and having fun together as a family.
Angela Morrow, RN, writes about goal setting in her article, "Letting Go of Grief: Entering a New Season in Life.
" Morrow thinks mourners should set one goal for the coming year, another goal for the second year after loss, and a third goal for the fifth year after loss.
"Having goals to work towards will keep you moving on your new journey," she writes.
Raising teenagers at this stage of life was a challenge and my goals should meet this challenge.
I read Internet articles about setting goals and one, on the Top Achievement website, "Creating S.
Goals," by Gene Donohue, was really helpful.
The word "smart" stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
"When you identify goals that are most important to you," Dononue notes, "you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true.
" I applied the S.
approach to grief recovery goals.
My first goal was go get the twins safely and lovingly to their 18th birthdays.
We reached this goal last week.
Goal two would be getting them through high school.
College graduation would come next, and if the twins wanted it, graduate school.
Diplomas would be the measurable outcomes of these goals.
These are attainiable goals and, most important, will prepare my grandchildren for life.
I will have to take good care of myself and follow my doctor's orders to reach these goals.
This goal setting has been a surprising chapter in my grief journey.
You may have surprises, too, as your journey evolves.
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson