The holiday season is here. While I love the holidays, I know that so many people feel differently and for good reasons too. This season is impossible to escape unless you can fly off to your own private island. So for those of us who can’t just do that, we are left to live through it. But how do we do that without being emotionally burnt? Well, my friends, we get through the holidays by putting ourselves first and that means saying, “No,” to invitations when it all feels like too much. This usually means having to say,”No,” to people who we love and care about and that sometimes feels terrible. But here is the thing, “no” is not a dirty word. It’s not a selfish word or even a bad word. No is a word that when used in this instance, tells other people you are taking care of yourself and that you are taking responsibility for your grief and healing, which is incredibly healthy. So therefore the word no is actually a much more positive word than people give it credit for. That doesn’t make it any easier to say, though, huh?
Tell me about it.
The thought of attending events this holiday season might be too much for you to handle and you know what? That is completely understandable. No matter where you are in your grief journey, you have the power and the right to say, “No,” to invitations. Even if those invitations are for family traditions. Whether you are grieving or not, most of us experience holiday season burn-out at some point. We run ourselves into the ground because we take on too much. So when you add grief into the picture, it almost feels impossible to do without draining your soul. You do not have to do it all and you don’t even have to try to. The question that I get asked most at this time of the year is “How do I say no to invitations at Christmas time?” and so today I wanted to share some ways to do this. These are just a few ideas and I cannot promise you that everyone is going to be happy with your decisions, but you have to remember that it is not your problem, nor is it your business what people think of you. So do not feel guilty for taking the space that you need to grieve at this time.
Saying No To Work Functions: A simple email with “Thank you for the invitation, but unfortunately I will not be able to attend,” is enough. They do not need to know all the details of why you cannot be there. If people ask why, you can say that you have another engagement on. This is not a lie. Your other engagement is taking care of your heart and that is a highly important thing to be doing on that particular night.
Saying No To Friends: Be honest with your friends. If they are true friends, they will understand or at least accept your decision. Tell them that this year you are finding it all too hard and that hopefully next time you will be able to make it. Thank your friends for the invitation and tell them how much it means to you that they wanted you there and then thank them for understanding why you cannot be there.
Saying No To Family: This one is a hard. You may feel a huge obligation to show up at the family event this year because you don’t want to offend or let anyone down. So saying, “No,” to your loved ones can be really tough. Unless you are 100% sure that you do not want to go to your family event, instead of saying an outright, “No,” have a think about saying, “Maybe.” Let your family know where you are at with your grief (maybe before the invitation even comes) and explain that you just don’t know how you will be feeling on the day. Let them know that of course, you really want to be there but if you feel that it is all gong to be too hard, you may have to sit this year out. Remind them how much you love them and that if you feel you can manage it on the day, then you will be there but you have to do what is right for you at this time. Thank them for understanding and just how much it means for you to be supported by them. When you communicate your needs to your family members, they are much better equipped to understand and help you out by respecting your wishes.
Saying No To Your Partner: Often when it comes to grief, we find ourselves in different stages to our partners. You may be feeling good, while they may be going through a rough stage or vice versa. It really helps to have the lines of communication open and mutual acceptance for each others grief, especially when it comes to handling holidays together. Talk to your partner about how you are feeling and if they feel differently to you, make sure you don’t make them feel bad or guilty for that. While they might not be feeling the same way as you, that doesn’t mean their feelings are wrong, it just means they are different. The last thing you want here is a conflict between you both. Talk about the reasons why you do not want to go and talk about why you feel that way. Be gentle, kind and honest with your partner. If things start to get heated remember to take a couple of breaths before you speak. I can’t guarantee that your partner will accept or even understand your decision but I believe it is important for you to be honest about how you are feeling. You must honour your own heart here. Maybe there is even a compromise that can be made.
Ways To RSVP: You have multiple ways that you can say no. You may not feel confident enough to say, “No,” to a person’s face or even over the phone, but there are other ways. Sometimes an email or text message is the most effective way to say, “No,” because you can take your time to write what is on your heart. If you are worried about an email or text being a cold way to let them no, tell them that and explain that you feel that this is what you had to do to communicate how you are feeling. Make sure your words are kind and end your message with gratitude. Gratitude goes a long way. Some people may not be happy with your decision and that is okay. If there is one thing I have learned in this journey of grief, it is that you cannot please everyone. Your true friends and family will understand. If you say yes just to please everyone, you may end up physically and emotionally exhausted and then even fall ill.
This holiday season, look after yourself. If no one will hold space for you this Christmas, hold it for yourself by honouring what you heart needs at this time. Be gentle and ind to yourself. If that means going into hibernation, so be it. If you want to go to everything or pick and choose your events, then do that. This is about what is best for your heart and well-being. I send you all my love and peace for this holiday season as we remember our children together. I am so sorry that they cannot be here in person to share this time with you. I hope this article helps you.