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Special Events Without Your Spouse

In our last blog, we wrote about Moving Through Lifestages Without Them and spoke about the family events that you go through as life moves ahead. In this blog, we’re writing about attending special events like weddings, funerals, memorial services, birthdays, conferences, work events, graduations, quinceaneras, bar/bat mitzvahs, confirmations, and other life events you might get invited to. Just another reminder that life goes on for others while you are in grief. 

The first time you get an invitation after losing your spouse can be difficult and bring up a lot of questions and anxiety. Do you attend alone? Do I have to go? Do I want to go? Who is going to be my plus one? How do I respond? How can I handle this alone?

You may be happy for the event and may even want to attend. Even so, you may wonder how you will get through it. One way to handle events like this is first to determine whether or not you want to go. Depending upon how far along in your grief journey, you may feel like attending, or you might not. It is ok to decide that you may not want to attend and to decline the invitation.

However, if you decide that you want to attend or feel you need to attend, it is good to have a plan in place. Let someone know your concerns and feelings and make a plan for what to do if the feelings become overwhelming. In the past, we’ve written It’s OK to respond to an event invitation your way as a guide for how to respond. 

Funerals or memorial service – we want to share that attending that first funeral can be very triggering. Even if you think you’re going to be OK. Funerals are stress and anxiety-inducing for most people in the best of circumstances. When you add a recent loss to the mix, it can be overwhelming. If you need to attend another funeral in a short time after your loss, please take care of yourself. Drink water, breathe, take a break if you need to, or bring a trusted friend. Bring tissues and have an exit plan if you need to leave before it’s over. Remember to take good care of yourself. 

Other special events are celebratory in nature for someone or something. Celebrating another may be outside the realm of your capabilities during deep grief. It can be so difficult to celebrate and feel joy when we’re grieving. However, if you’re able to feel joy and be happy for another person’s life event, please do. We are meant to feel joy, and it’s more than OK. Depending upon the relationship with the other person you may feel you “have” to attend or show up. Remember, you get to choose how you show up in life or attend. If you feel like you want to attend and celebrate, please do. If not, you can RSVP no and send a gift if that feels better.

Something to consider is that attending something for someone and showing your support might be just the thing to brighten your day. It can be uplifting and a great way to get back out into the world, especially if you are close to that person and have a good support system that attends with you. 

Attending that first celebratory event is likely to feel awkward and uncomfortable. It is OK and normal to feel that way. Embrace the feelings and allow them to flow. If you are able to move through the discomfort and remember that you’re there to support the celebration by your presence, you may find yourself able to appreciate the moment. Just showing up is a positive step forward in moving through grief. 

Have a plan for after the event to decompress and reflect on how you feel afterward. Schedule some self-care. Acknowledge and celebrate that you did it. 

If you choose not to, that’s the best thing for you. That’s to be acknowledged and celebrated as well. You set a boundary for yourself!  Take care of yourself!

Special events come and know that you can only do what’s right for you in the moment. Some events will be easier than others. Give yourself grace as you process each event and celebrate each step you take along the way.

Peace & blessings,
Jeni & Teresa

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

The First Days: Coping with Life After Loss is a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback.

My Journey as a Widow: A Widow’s First Journal  is a follow-on journal for processing complex emotions and moving forward with hope available on Amazon in paperback.

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