Episode 33 – Practical tips to navigate a gathering
You are listening to the Life Reconstructed podcast with me, Teresa Amaral Beshwate, grief expert, best-selling author and widow. I’m so glad you’re here because in this and every episode, I shine a light on the widowed way forward.
Hello and welcome to episode 33. In this episode, I share how to navigate the noise, people and conversations at Thanksgiving.
In episode 32, I offered six practical tips to navigate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, although they are helpful for any holiday or special occasion. Today I take a closer look at the noise, the people and specifically the conversations of the day.
Before we dive in, I want you to have options. So I recommend that you drive yourself if possible, and park thoughtfully so that you can leave when you need to.
Now, let’s address noise. Noisy environments were difficult for me after my husband passed, and 11 years later, I own custom made ear plugs and still avoid noise as much as possible. Noisy environments can spark a nervous system response. Deep breathing may help.
But if the noise level is difficult for you, take breaks. Step outside if you can. Take a short walk. And use that time to allow your feelings to surface if necessary. You may need to stay only a short while and then excuse yourself when you need to.
I personally need large doses of solitude and silence after being in a noisy environment.
Monitor yourself and do what’s best for you, moment-by-moment.
Now, let’s talk about the people. You may or may not feel at ease with the people present at your gathering. We live in a non-grief savvy society, and this is clear at even small gatherings. Few people are grief savvy enough to truly understand. I believe that most people have the best of intentions, and that helps me overlook a wide variety of missteps.
For example….the questions. The questions can be impossible to answer, like “How are you?” Most widowed people I know despise this question, in part because it’s nearly impossible to answer without a time frame attached. Because the truth is that I’ve felt a million things since my person passed. It may help to apply your own time stamp and respond with, “Well, today is hard for me.” Or “Well, today I’m doing my best.” My standard response to the question was, “I’m doing my best and every day that looks different.”
Conversations can also prove challenging. Life after loss means that we find ourselves in conversations that we can no longer relate to, that feel irrelevant and pointless, and drain the little bit of energy that we might have. It’s okay to excuse yourself from these conversations. It’s okay to stop participating or change the subject. You don’t have to expend your finite energy in this way.
Conversations can be even more challenging when the subject is you. That you should be better by now, or moving on, or letting go, or slowing down, or otherwise grieving differently. There’s a lot of talk about conversation starters. But sometimes widowed people need a conversation stopper. I like the following, “I don’t expect you to understand what this is like for me.” And you can even add, “In fact, I’m so glad you don’t.” It can be said lovingly and mark the end of the conversation.
It's a polite way of saying, “In this moment, you’re demonstrating that you don’t understand, and that’s okay.” And, “I don’t expect you to understand.”
It’s ironic that in the most difficult time of our life, the people closest to us will not understand us or our grief. It’s a powerful choice to let them be wrong about us.
Let them be wrong about you.
I didn’t understand either, until I did.
No one understands until they do. It’s impossible.
Holiday gatherings in life after loss are challenging. Grieving is learning and it’s messy at best.
Adding self-judgement adds unnecessary suffering. That’s the part that’s optional.
Can you refrain from judging yourself? And be incredibly kind to yourself instead?
Ask yourself, “What would love say in this moment?”
In the next episode, I’ll offer a way to debrief your holiday experience, and learn everything there is to learn so you can apply it next time.
In the meantime, I want you to know about my new book bundle. It’s my best-selling book Life Reconstructed, plus I published the accompanying journal, and it includes a 3-part video series with all my latest teachings. It’s a package deal that’s normally $197, but I am offering it at just $37. I want you to have extra help for this holiday season. The book alone has helped thousands, and I know it will help you, too.
So, get your book bundle today – the link is in the show notes. And remember that I’m here for you, and I believe in you. Take care.
If this episode was helpful, please share it with a widowed friend. And remember that I believe in you, and I’m here for you. Take care.
If you’ve found this podcast helpful, I invite you to join Life Reconstructed, my coaching program exclusively for widowed people. It will help you step forward toward a life you will love again. Simply go to thesuddenwidowcoach.com and click work with me.