At our widow retreats, we address how preconceived notions about how we should behave when we are grieving can sometimes get in the way of the healing process. If we feel one thing and then react in a way that doesn’t match up with our feelings, we are, in a way, denying the truth of the situation. We’re pretending. And that’s a problem. Because authentically dealing with our grief is the only way to get through it. Denying what we know is the truth will always work against us – not for us.
We’d like YOU to consider giving yourself “permission” to behave in a way that matches the difficult emotions you are experiencing as you mourn your husband. If your feelings bring tears – then don’t try so hard to hold back those tears. If you push yourself to attend a social event, but after you arrive, you find yourself overcome with sadness, allow yourself to leave.
Why is this important? Holding emotions inside, pretending to be OK when we aren’t OK, and suffering through situations wearing a fake smile as we pretend to enjoy ourselves work against the grieving process. Grief delayed means healing delayed.
So, we’ve put together a list for you. We call it “My Grief Permission List”. Which of these permissions do you need to give yourself?
It starts with:
“I give myself permission to say, do, or think any of the following as I seek to understand my grief, heal from my deep loss, and eventually embrace living a new chapter in my life story:”
I give myself permission to:
- Cry wherever and whenever the tears decide to come and not say, “I’m sorry.”
- Politely decline invitations to social events/activities if I decide that I am not yet ready.
- Spend more time alone, if that is what feels best to me at the moment.
- Be honest about my emotions, even if others might be uncomfortable.
- Allow myself to rest more than usual.
- Spend time doing nothing when that feels right and necessary.
- Cancel plans when I just need to sit with my thoughts and feelings.
- Accept and ask for help from others and not let pride get in my way.
- Keep my husband’s possessions as long as I want.
- Not act as though I am strong when I feel weak.
- Politely decline unrequested advice and awkward, hurtful statements.
- Give myself a lot of grace when I can’t meet my own performance standards
- Allow myself to laugh and be lighthearted when those thoughts and feelings come.
- Say or write whatever comes to mind regarding my husband and not question myself.
- Invite others to talk about my husband (or the opposite), depending on how I feel.
- Feel angry or disillusioned and question my faith or beliefs.
- Adjust to and heal from my loss at my own pace.
- Take personal breaks from my mourning if and when I sense a need for normalcy.
We just shared 18 possible permissions to give yourself the freedom to grieve in a more authentic “true to yourself” way. We encourage you to spend time with these and decide which of the permissions are right for you. Don’t worry about getting this permission from others. You need to give it to yourself.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices we must make daily. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
We hope you find something here that is helpful.
When you’re ready, there is a lot we can do to make this journey more bearable. Check out our one-of-a-kind widow retreat here.