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.
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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