Have you been out to the stores lately?

Have you noticed we went from Halloween to Christmas?

I don't know about you, but I have been triggered into a grief spiral of emotions.  

For anyone dealing with an illness, grief, or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness, pain, anger, or dread. It can be difficult to cope, especially when you see the sights and sounds of holiday happiness all around you. (Holiday Survival Strategies for Coping With Grief (

More importantly, you’re also allowed to say no, or ask for flexibility. When you’re new to navigating holiday grief, there’s likely going to be some trial and error involved, so give yourself some grace. Navigating Holiday Grief Practical Strategies - Umoya Institute.

Navigating party invitations while simultaneously navigating holiday grief

If you’re invited to a party and you aren’t sure if you’re going to want to go, here’s a template to follow for declining gracefully, which you can put into your own words:

1. Express gratitude for the invitation (e.g., “Thank you so much for inviting me.”)

2. State the facts (e.g., “This is a hard time of year for me, and I’m not sure I’m going to be up for it”)

3. Clarify their needs / expectations (e.g., “Could I let you know that day how I’m feeling? I may need to leave early, so please know it’s not personal if I do. Would that work for you?”)

4. Reinforce that you value the relationship and are making an effort (e.g., “I’m still figuring out how to navigate this new reality and it’s complicated, but I’m doing my best.”

Following this approach, you’ll hopefully encounter fewer miscommunications and hurt feelings. Remember that the only people that will be upset about your boundaries are the people that take advantage of your lack of them. So if you’re invited to a party and you know immediately that it’s a “definite no”, you can follow the same model but modify to state definitively that it’s not going to work for you this time, but thanks anyway.

Navigating Holiday Grief Practical Strategies - Umoya Institute

I don't know about you, but when I was invited to a gathering recently, I said directly to the person inviting me, I just don't do well in crowds or big groups of people around the holidays and that person - I could tell by hums and hoe sounds they made on the phone that the person was "disappointed" in my decision. The fact of the matter is, it's not their decision and it's not their place to judge my decision. Being invited is kind, but the response from others is out of their control and frankly is rude to put any pressure or judgement in front of what others may be feeling. I have to make my decision and then be ok with that decision without pressure. Holidays are difficult and challenging after the loss of my son. I don't have a flock of kids to distract me. My advice, just be ok with any decision that feels right. I also recently told someone close to me, I hide what I really feel well, people think I am "healed" or over my loss, NOT TRUE!!! When I say I really have a lot of pain the response from my close loved one was "I Know", but really, they don't. They have not asked how I am doing to know. But, if they did, it may open the door for a flood, which I am not sure they could handle, so there is no right or wrong way of moving through grief. Its individual and unique. I do believe in support groups and being around people that actually "know" what that particular loss feels like. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, chat with them online via their website, or text HOME to 741741 (multiple languages available). If this is an emergency, call 911.

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