It’s that awkward time of year when you are more likely to be invited to events and occasions. You get an email invite or invitation in the mail. Or God forbid, they ask you in person to their event and want a response. When you’re grieving, these invites can be well meaning but can also add stress and discomfort. It’s OK to have these feelings. Take time to acknowledge how you feel.
It’s OK to say no with no explanation, no guilt - just say no, no thank you, or not this year. You don’t have to explain why. You can simply decline and allow yourself to take care of you. It is OK.
When you receive an invite or subtle, “When are you coming?” message, how do you react? What do you say and do? Do you crumble inside and feel overwhelmed by the prospect of interacting with others? It is OK to say no. It is also OK to say yes if you are up to the event.
A few months back, we wrote It’s OK to say No to support you in saying no and setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Please take a moment and visit that blog if you need assistance with saying No. We found it hard to say No as well at times.
Here are a few tips for surviving a holiday event when you are grieving.
Tips to Survive an Invite to an Event Invitation
- Decide what you need and want right now.
- Do you want to attend the event?
- Is this an uplifting positive event?
- Are there positive supportive people there?
- If you do not want to attend - Say No. No thank you, not this year.
- Know that you don’t have to explain or feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
- You have permission to say NO and it’s perfectly normal and OK to say No.
- Do the holidays how you want to and how you are able to.
Tips to Survive an Invite to an Event if you choose to attend
Key survival tip is to plan ahead if you decide to say yes
- Consider what might be the triggers for you at this event?
- Food, music, seeing so-and-so, food, places, music, memories, etc.
- Think what you might do to bring yourself comfort if you are triggered by something
- Allow yourself to have your feelings
- How long do you stay?
- You have permission to leave early or arrive late.
- Consider going for 30 min, just the snacks or desserts.
- Decide on an exit strategy. How might you leave if you need to do so?
- Communicate your intentions with the host and elicit a friend as well to support you at the event.
Have a backup Plan A, B, C…
- Have a plan to leave earlier if you need to or arrive later - whatever works for you.
- Have a plan if and when a trigger is hit.
- Tissues, plan to exit or move to a quiet location, how do you want to be treated, etc.
- Have a plan for if you try and just cannot go to the event.
- An alternative - maybe a movie, nice meal, good book or different outing for yourself.
It’s OK to say No to events and occasions you don’t want to attend. It is OK to say no and say no more. No is a complete sentence. It needs no explanation. You don’t need to feel guilty. You are taking care of you and doing the best you can do at this time. That is enough. That is OK. The holidays can be a challenge in normal times. Grief can add to the stress of the holidays. Take care of yourself and do what works best for you. Give yourself grace even if what you have planned doesn’t work. If this happens, take a moment to breathe and refocus. Then, you can try again. You are doing your best in a stressful time. It is OK.
We hope these tips can support you during this time of holidays and events and occasions.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed about the holidays, we’ve got hints and tips for you in this article: Holiday Stress & Widowhood.
It’s OK to keep old traditions and it’s OK to have new traditions & It’s OK to prepare for the holidays in your own way are two additional articles that we hope can be of support as well as you navigate this season.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or really low - please get support from a professional - be that your spiritual leader, therapist, or coach. Know that you don’t need to do this alone, and asking for help and support is the first step to moving forward.
May Peace and Blessings surround you. Remember, it’s OK to say NO. And if you’re up to it it’s OK to say Yes.
Please take radical good care of yourself, breathe and move at your pace. Know you are loved & not alone.
As a support, we invite you to download or share with those who’ve lost a loved one our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss.
Peace, blessings, and gratitude,
Jeni & Teresa
PS: Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss - available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.