There were times when I needed explicit permission to create more room for healing in my life.
This was hard for me. I am a pleaser by nature, so saying, “No”, to things has always been challenging.
Two months after David died, it was time for our annual family campout. I was getting a lot of pressure to go. I packed up the van and my babies and sat in the driver’s seat, where I immediately broke into a panicky sweat.
Everything inside of me was screaming, “NO DON’T GO!” But I was packed, people were expecting me to be there and I felt backed into a corner.
No big surprise - the trip was a miserable failure for me.
I spent the entire time fighting my tears because the dozen other family members on the trip were not ready to see me so upset.
I wasn’t ready to be seen yet.
I kept hiding in corners of the house and weeping for three to five minutes, then trying to return to the “‘fun of camping.” Of course, there was no fun for me. If only I had given myself permission to just say, No.
It was after that trip that I adopted the permission-slip idea for use on my grieving journey.
From then on, if I was feeling particularly shaky about letting someone down or worried that I’d make someone angry if I said, No, or pulled out of a commitment, I would write myself a permission slip:
To Whom It May Concern,
Melinda is deep in mourning today and will not be able to make it to the pre-scheduled luncheon. Melinda will not suffer remorse, regret, or angst over this decision.
Thank you for your understanding and compassion.
A widow's advice:
Remember when your mom would write a permission slip if you were late to school for a dentist appointment?
Now, you get to write your own permission slips to help you make the changes you need to continue on your healing journey.
Have some fun with this - get out crayons and markers and go to town on your kids’ leftover construction paper.
Or use your computer to create forms you can quickly fill in and print out when you need permission. Create sheets of permission slips.
Your permission slips might say something like,
I hereby grant myself . . .
permission to say, No, to things I don’t want to do
permission not to suffer guilt or remorse for saying, No
permission not to go to the book group I have been a part of for fifteen years
permission not to attend the family holiday party
permission to stop wearing make-up
permission to pull in away from the social world and rest for a bit
permission to be angry
permission to save everything from my former life
permission to get rid of everything from my former life
permission to disappoint people, even my family
permission to say, No
permission to say, Yes
permission to . . .
You fill in the blank.
Keep these slips in your purse or post them on your fridge to remind yourself that you have permission to do what you need to do to feel better. Be creative and silly with this. Empower yourself to be right where you are.
You have all the permission you need to live your best life possible. Right here. Right now.
If people get mad, sad, frustrated or disappointed that is not your responsibility. Grieving is hard. You get to surround yourself with the folks that have compassion for you even if they don’t completely understand what you are going through.
I am excited to see where this takes you. Grant yourself permission and see what happens.
Remember that you do not have to journey alone through your grief. Call me if you want to chat.