One of the hardest things we have had to relearn is to say “no” to people.
It seems simple, but it’s not. Grief is a huge thing to wrap your head around, and one of the things that is particularly a struggle is having to carry on with your normal life when nothing is normal anymore. Somebody told us that after the death of a loved one, you are expected to go back to work after a month. But that doesn’t mean that you are ready, or hurt less.
It can feel as though everyone’s lives continue after a death but your own. People who came to the funeral slide out of your life and back into their routine: breakfast, work, lunch, work, home, family, sleep. For us, we couldn’t just do that. Even 6 months down the line, and we still need our weekends to recharge, sleep and feel secure at home.
People ask you to do things and you have to turn them down sometimes. It’s hard not to feel guilty about it. Sometimes it is hard to say when you will feel up for visitors, or when you will feel mentally strong enough. Sometimes, making plans for the following week seems like a great idea – and sometimes it is – but other times, you just have to cancel because all you need to do is gather your strength at home.
Your friends may want to see the person they used to know: fun-loving, laughing, happy Katie and Evee. For us, that was an impossible task. We weren’t happy, and we certainly weren’t going to pretend we were.
Saying “no” becomes a power; it strengthens you mentally. You slowly repair once lost boundaries. We were used to having nurses, doctors, family friends, just walking into our house. Now, when our door shuts, it stays shut. Our weekends are ours again, and that takes a lot of getting used to. We started to go for walks every Sunday, and it seemed huge. We felt peaceful, calm, and normal. This was so important because our lives were dictated by us again, for us, rather than having to give our energy to others.
Being around people who don’t understand grief can be difficult because you can’t relate to them, and you may not even have the energy to explain how you feel. We don’t care for small talk or gossip; How can we talk about so and so’s friend’s boyfriend drama over a cappuccino when all we can think about is the last time we were in that coffee shop with our mum. When we see people our own ages, we cannot be carefree because we walk around with a huge burden. We find it difficult to relate to sloppy instagram stories of nights out because we didn’t have that luxury for so long, and after our mums death, we had time, but that was the last thing we wanted to do.
Grief comes in waves as does your energy level. Sometimes you do feel capable of meeting up with people, having fun, and you almost feel like yourself again. When these days occur, we try to make the most of them, as guilt free as possible. But on the flipside, sometimes there still are those days where leaving the house is daunting, and just going to the swimming pool feels like a win.
We know that in time, periods where we want to socialise and have fun will become more frequent, but for now, it is okay to take time to heal ourselves without feeling bad or guilty for saying “no”.
It’s okay to allow yourself days where you lock the doors, watch Gossip Girl on Netflix and rest. Give yourself what your body needs: say “yes” to yourself, even if that means saying “no” to others.
For now, dedicate this time to rest.
Katie & Evee