Wedding Ideas

Postponing Your NJ Wedding: Why It’s OK to Grieve

Posted on April 27 by Lisa Flam

If you’re heartbroken over having to postpone your dream wedding due to the coronavirus, know that you’re not alone and that it’s OK to feel all the feelings.

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After all that decision making, careful planning, money spent and loads of excitement leading up to the big day, brides who are delaying their nuptials may be feeling sadness, anger, disappointment and loss, which are all expressions of grief, says Dr. Rosalind S. Dorlen, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Summit who specializes in women’s issues.

Expressions of grief

“When I talk to women, a lot of them have their wedding plans down to the tiniest detail,” she says. “So the disappointment is great. It’s the loss of their beautiful fantasy and the disappointment of knowing that it won’t play out the way they had hoped. It can just make people sad.”

“The fantasies around a wedding are incredible,” she adds, and when that day gets postponed: “There is a grieving process.”

Although it may be difficult, Dorlen says, it’s important to recognize your feelings. “To acknowledge those feelings can be quite therapeutic,” says Dorlen, also a member of the medical staff in the psychiatry department at Overlook Medical Center in Summit. “It may be painful, but it certainly does help to process these emotions.”

“There needs to be some room to allow oneself to grieve what was a fantasied day of joy,” she says.

Ashley and Kevin -Sophia Jones Photos
Sohia Jones Photography
Acknowledge your feelings

How can you acknowledge those feelings? Through self-talk, Dorlen says, or talking to yourself in a positive way. “It’s not condemning oneself for having feelings,” she says. “It’s acknowledging the right to have feelings.”

“It’s basically saying, ‘I’m feeling horrible. I have a right to feel this way, and I will work my way through this. I will be supportive of myself as I go through this because the feelings I’m having are normal feelings about loss and disappointment,’” Dorlen explains.

Everybody works through disappointment differently and at their own pace. “There are some people who have been able to be very creative about dealing with loss and dealing with disappointment, and then there are some other people who are not quite as resilient and may not be able to deal with it as well,” she says.

“Nothing is sequential emotionally, and everybody has her own unique way of dealing with disappointment and loss,” Dorlen says.

Sometimes when people go through a traumatic disappointment, they lack a perspective. “We do need a perspective because that enables us to create our own construct and our own path for moving forward,” she says.

You just can’t force it to happen quickly, though. “Just like you can’t hurry love, I don’t think you can hurry somebody going through some sad feelings,” Dorlen says. “They need to be acknowledged, they need to be respected, and they can’t be talked away. They need to be processed a little bit.”

When it comes to dealing with a postponement, she says: “The goal here is to become positive about it and manage it with good mental health.”

Here are Dorlen’s suggestions for working through your emotions:

  • Find Online Support Among Other Affected Brides. “It’s a tool to help people have someone understand, so that when a woman says, ‘I have been planning this wedding for the last 20 years and now I’ve had to postpone,’ or ‘I’m very stressed out,’ it helps to have someone say, ‘I know how you feel. I’ve been there, or I’m going through this now,’” Dorlen says. “These are tools that we use to help ourselves feel better.” If you’re looking for an online bridal resource or community, join the New Jersey Bride Private Facebook group.
  • Reinforce Existing Relationships. “Whether it’s your old college roommate or your neighbors, or people who you’ve come to value, set up some opportunities to connect,” Dorlen says.
  • Practice Self-Care. “At these times, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Dorlen says. “Being able to maintain routines, being able to commune with nature and connect there, continuing with one’s exercise program, all of these things are manifestations of self-care that are really helpful with disappointment.”Self-care, which also includes proper nutrition and sleep, helps prevent depression, Dorlen says. “It has a prophylactic action against deeper depression,” Dorlen says. “It can build very positive feelings. We all feel better when we exercise.”
  • Keep Busy. “It’s good to be occupied with other projects,” Dorlen says. “It’s good to keep one’s mind on the fact that we’re talking about a postponement. We’re not talking about a cancellation, and when people keep busy, their mind’s occupied and they’re open to creative ideas. They’re going to manage disappointment more resiliently.”
  • Be Grateful. Look for the gratitude in your life. “Find some things that are reasons to be appreciative,” Dorlen says.
  • Work Toward Acceptance. Hopefully, brides can arrive at a place of acceptance, she says, and feel that they made a wise choice that protects everyone’s health by postponing. “Most brides can come around to adjust, call it accept, the fact that they’re not canceling their wedding, they are postponing it,” Dorlen says. “They can begin to consider plan B, become more positive about that, recognize that they’re doing the right thing.”

    Having to stay home during the pandemic, which can involve feelings of isolation and disconnection, plus the loss of a wedding date, may feel like a double whammy for brides, Dorlen says.

    For brides who are hunkered down with their fiancé, being together may offer a silver lining. “They have some time to cherish and they still can look forward to the formal day of their wedding when they will be celebrating with their families,” Dorlen says.
    Brides who are not living with their groom may find it harder, and they should rely on coping methods that work for them, Dorlen says. “Whatever skills a person has to deal with sadness is going to come up,” she says. You can try to keep busy, focus on work and hobbies, connect with friends, family and your future groom and connect with nature. “People find their own ways to cope with this.”

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