As we slowly emerge from pandemic quarantine, step-by-step the invitations and get togethers will start to ramp up. Spring and Summer are definitely a time for relaxing and having some fun with the people you love most.
But get-togethers with people who aren’t grieving can be extremely hard to handle when you are grieving the recent death of a loved one. Many people aren’t sure how to handle the dichotomy of wanting to be around those they love, yet feeling the sadness for their loss and sensing a lack of space in their social interactions to process this experience.
If you are wondering how to deal with your grief during upcoming social events, here are some tips I hope will help:
Feel Your Pain
Recognize that grieving is an important part of healing. Stuffing your feelings down will only prolong your grief. If your instinct is to avoid all get-togethers in an effort to not feel your pain, you may want to rethink your decision.
While you shouldn’t completely avoid being social with your loved ones, you don’t have to say yes to everything. Choose the events that you think you can handle and kindly turn down the ones that may be more difficult. Be firm with loved ones who may try and convince you to attend, thinking it will be good for you. Ultimately, you are the only one who knows how you feel and what you can handle.
Have an Escape Plan
Be sure to have a plan and a pre-formulated explanation (e.g. “I’m not sure how long I can stay,” or “I’m really tired so I might leave early”) so you can leave whenever you want. If you must get a ride, try to get one with someone who will take you home on your timeline. You may also want to download the Uber or Lyft app or call a taxi as another option.
Coordinate Socializing Time with Other Grievers
If you’re lonely in your pain, connect with other people who are also grieving and spend time with them! There will be no need to explain or protect the people you’re with from your inner conflict, as they’ll personally know it well.
Honor Your Loved One
Find new ways to keep the memory of your loved one alive. Make their favorite dish or baked item to bring to a BBQ. Light and release sky lanterns. Creating unique ways to memorialize your loved one will help you honor their memory during this time.
It may also help to speak with a professional. A grief group or individual therapist can offer tools to cope as well as guide you along your grieving path to wellness. If you’re interested in treatment options, please get in touch with me or check out the list of resources for grief on my website.