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Boundary Struggles

Boundaries are a form of self-care – it’s a way to prioritize yourself, your needs while taking good care of yourself. They protect us – our emotions and physically. Remember It’s OK to have Boundaries.

Even so, setting and keeping healthy boundaries are sometimes a struggle. They are not always easy to set nor keep. Think of them as part of the journey. 

When Jeni first met Teresa, the thought of having boundaries at all was a foreign concept. Throughout her life, she had allowed others to control multiple parts of her life. For her, this was the way life worked. Added to this was her own personal grief journey, which allowed others further access into her life. Jeni was the ultimate people pleaser to her own detriment. A common unhealthy boundary for many.

This is not a healthy way to go about life. True, it is hard to see what is what when you first incur loss and having others to assist is beneficial. However, there comes a time when you will need to take control back into your life.  

Since that time, Jeni has worked to not only take control of her life but also to achieve control. Truly, this was foreign to her. Learning to say no to what did not serve her well is an ongoing struggle but she is getting better at it. Her life is healthier and her peace is more protected as a result. 

Boundaries in Grief: Struggles and Solutions shares our stories and a practical checklist of how to set boundaries.

If you are faced with something you must do in life and feel you cannot say no, you may want to try reframing the event or item so that you can be comfortable with it. Perhaps you can say no but sometimes you cannot. 

For example, if there is a major family/friend event that you feel you must attend but there is an element that makes you feel uncomfortable, adds to your grief and feels negative. Take a moment and consider the item that creates these feeling. What is this discomfort about? Is it the people, place, music, food, or the memories? What are some ways you could approach the event so that you will be more comfortable? What boundary would you like to create for yourself? What might be a possible positive reframe and boundary be for you?

Take into consideration the following: You invited to attend a party that you and your spouse would have previously attended together. You want to go but are not sure how you are going to respond emotionally. Here are some ways you can respond.

  1. What do you need?
  2. Decide how you want the outcome of the event to be for you.
  3. What might be fun or enjoyable about this event? 
  4. Who might you want to avoid/set boundaries with prior to the event?
  5. What topics are off limits for you to discuss with others?
  6. Communicate to the hosts your concerns and boundaries.
  7. Find a trusted friend to attend the event with you.
  8. Perhaps setting a time boundary for the event – showing up later, leaving earlier, taking a break. 
  9. Make an “exit” plan in case you become overwhelmed.
  10. No matter what you are doing the best you can.

If after reframing the event or item you are still feeling discomfort or uneasy with it, consider saying no. It is better for you to protect your emotional wellbeing than to be stressed or overwhelmed in a situation. It is perfectly OK and healthy to set your needs first.

Celebrate your doing boundary work and taking care of yourself. This is your journey and you get to decide what you say yes to and no to. Making boundaries is a great way to take care of yourself. 

Peace & blessings,
Jeni & Teresa

PS: One of our goals this year is to grow our audience and assist more widows who are traveling on this journey. Please help us in achieving this goal by sharing our site with others who need it in their lives. You can also follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our site. If you have a topic that you would like us to discuss, please contact us.

 For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

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