Make Time for Grieving (Even if it means saying no)

It’s hard for me to say no. With the best of intentions, many people want to keep me busy. It’s their “cure” for my missing Joe. I, too, thought I must get involved, and my calendar is filled. What I really need is more time to be alone and let myself grieve.

I’m saying no to:

Potluck suppers. I don’t feel like preparing food or making small talk. I would rather stay home with a good book.

Singles groups. The members are younger. I don’t feel like joining in the discussions, and the social events don’t “fit” me now.

Bridge club. It’s too complicated. I don’t need the pressure of competition.

An extended trip with a group. Instead, I’ll start with a shorter one.

A dog. It would be an added responsibility, and I don’t want to be tied down now.

A jazz concert. It is not my favorite kind of music. Why should I go just to have something to do?

Church responsibility. Requires preparation every Sunday. I need to do something that is not so demanding, for now.

Computer class. I have wanted to do this for years, and I have the time, but it requires more concentration than I have right now.

Inviting the family for a holiday. It will bring back too many memories to handle. Maybe next year.

Hospice volunteering. I must deal with my own grief first.

I can do any of these later. My first priority is to deal with my grief. I can say no to any activity that is not in line with my goal, without feeling guilty. I will know when it feels right to go ahead.

You can say no too. What can wait while you are grieving?
Share your story and ideas below.

Marta Felber, author of Grief Expressed When a Mate Dies and Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies, has held many counseling and consulting positions in the U.S. and abroad, including serving for 10 years as director and head counselor at a center for expatriates in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Comment by Emily on December 31, 2012 at 4:41pm

This year I am saying no to New Year's Eve parties. I forced my way through multiple holiday parties this month and tonight I am going to have a relaxing quiet night at home with my husband.

Comment by Diamond on December 31, 2011 at 5:50pm


I had to say to myself "hurray" for her - sometimes we need "alone" time.  We do not need to have someone else tell us how to handle our emotions - especially with grieving.  Even the Bible states there is a time for "silence."   When I was going through my process of grieving you would think that some would understand that "chatter" all the time is not the best thing. 

So, yes - we all heal in our own way.  I gain comfort from reading the Bible and reading those verses that gives me a spirit of discernment-I find that mainly in the Book of Proverbs. 

I too was not finish healing from my Dad death when  those who mean well want to show you how to heal "their style."  Well, Good for you - it is not mean saying "NO" but healthy sometimes.  You need to get back in contact with yourself.

I respect how any of us must heal - sometime  a "hug" is all you need - no words - just a hug.  Sometimes, a brief note letting you know that you are being thought of - it is the small things that leaves a lasting impression on me.  So, do take your time and heal.   


Comment by Georgette Paquette on December 8, 2011 at 11:44am

It is only 6 months since I lost my soulmate/husband of 24.5 years in a sudden death and it is already the holiday season. 'No's' are very difficult as so many people seem to feel that I should be 'back to normal' when there is no longer a normal. My daughter and I have said no to a christmas tree and decorations this year. We have nothing to celebrate... I guess that is a start to 'make our stance' We come from a culture/background where we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by saying no, so I'm finding it very difficult to constantly try and defend/explain myself. I'm glad I found this site to hear of other grievers that are saying no. Thanks for the support!

Comment by Chicago Beard on June 13, 2011 at 4:35am
I have found that I enjoy these get togethers. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. I continue to miss my Rose more each day but also continue all of my activity. Life goes on and drags you along kicking and screaming whether you like it or not. I have plenty of alone time but really enjoy my time with friends.
Comment by Marsha H on June 12, 2011 at 6:38pm
I was just invited out for dinner to my friend's home and I just thanked them and said 'no.'  They persisted and I simply have no energy left argue, but firmly said 'no, but I'll take a rain check.'  It is true that no one who has not suffered a spousal loss understands even though they mean well.  I find it pressures me; makes me feel worse instead of better and so I decided to contact all my email friends with a link to the process of grieving so they would better understand.  It is true what the one poster said 'give me time to grieve.'  I do feel lonely, but right now just want to have peace and quiet; my pets (keep me walking out in the real world) and yes, tears stream down my face when I think of Ernie and I walking along the same paths with the dogs, but, I have to cling onto some sense of reality at my own pace.
Comment by Leonard Shick on April 26, 2011 at 9:13pm

River...for me it's not as much of saying no, it's more of not being asked. There are days that I feel alone in a crowd with conversations all about. I also have been told no, even when I've wanted to partisipate. Then there's the question, "Do you really feel up to it?"  I watch as their lives move forward, while mine stalled. I just mark it up too fear on their part. I watch as they "raise sheilds" when I'm about. Wispering becomes the norm, and there's a feeling of uneasiness. When I try to explain on a 1-2-1 conversation, I'm cut short, and told we'll get together soon, which never happens. For me, I'm looking for closure. Simple, yet the most complicated of things to happen in my case. So the wounds still seep with tears...and the heart..un-mended...


Comment by River of Tears on April 26, 2011 at 3:45am

 When others do not hear your voice .  Words are spoken as the word No but yet they still may not hear it or is it they do understand the definition . So I tried other words .  "Thank you I am sorry I Will not be able to . Or to even put it in writing , as to thank them for the invitation. Yet my words are not heard . Why .. My voice in all of this does not seem to matter or maybe in life it never did , and the only ones that could hear it was those who have passed away .  My Father , Mother and Sister  we some how could communicate without even speaking , even from miles apart . Just that thing you hear Families can do . I could feel what was happen with each for some reason no matter how many thousands of miles I was , I could hear them and they would say they same they could hear me . But now why does not anyone hear me ,  in when asking or saying the word no to things it seems to be as though words may not have come out of my mouth at all  . Maybe they did not .?  Just as I had hoped to have had the right words to say especially when my sister needed me when she could speak for herself anymore , yet no , no one wanted to listed . So how am I going to have the same people listen now even to the word No .  Well I decide my only way to manage this was to search what ever avenue I could , and the only one I can come up with now is to buy and Island far far away . So still if no one hears me then at least then I will know why that I am truly alone not like I am when in a room full of people who still wont leave me alone even to hear the word No just one time just for me to pause .   I have been on since my Father then my Mother and Sister to maybe hear my own voice to tell me I have to stop and truly grieve . If not who will hear me if not me .  If others choose not to . Then who As now the ones that listened before are not hear to know or understand me . 


Allow yourself at least a moment in time for yourself if that 

Please take care to all



Comment by River of Tears on February 13, 2011 at 3:52am

How to smile when you can not ,  ( when you already think you are ) thinking you are putting on a good face . Yet there are those either sensitive enough to others feeling or not that come up and tell you to " smile ".  I wish I had something to smile about right now  I fear I may never have .  Yet in trying to get back to the " Real world or what others call living I attempt my best and walk out my door to face the world again .  Yet now , before in getting dressed I seem to have to look for that smile everyone wants that I used to have so to wear it out the door . This now too I must be failing at .  One to always be somehow before my Sisters and Mothers and Fathers death be at least able to pretend how I was feeling now grief must be the new make -up on have on one that I can not cover up no matter how much I try .  Why do some need me too ?  Their lives meant something , if not to them at least to me.


May comfort come to all of you feel what you need as you go through this journey not what others tell you or want you too . ( easier said then done )

Comment by Leonard Shick on October 16, 2010 at 11:34pm
So much of this is soooo true. I know my friends are trying to help and understand, but I cannot connect with them on any level right now. This came to light for them recently. Tho it caused me to have another emotional break-down, they gained a renewed understanding, which is what we who struggle each day, are striving towards.

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