By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

No : The Power of Saying No

saying No

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I will focus on caregiving. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, where I will share ways to increase your creativity. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is N for No: The Power of Saying No.

When you’re a caregiver, saying, no can be the difference between drowning in obligations and keeping your head above water. Even though it’s important, saying no might be a very difficult thing to do.

Saying No to Others

Saying no can often feel like you are disappointing someone. It’s especially difficult when you’ve been involved in the leadership of a group, or have been a committed member for a long time. It can be hard to find someone who’s willing to step up to the plate and take on your responsibility. And, it’s always a good cause, whether it’s being on the church bake sale committee or your son’s Cub Scout den leader. People will understand, though. And sometimes, other people need a chance to step into these roles. You taking a break might be just the opportunity they need to get out of their comfort zone and contribute.

The People You Love

Saying no to the people close to you can be even more difficult than taking a break from church and civic groups. Your best friend, who can’t find anyone else for to dog-sit for the weekend, might turn to you for help. How do you say, “no?”

“No. I wish I could help, but I can’t.”

And don’t add and apologetic, “sorry.” You have nothing to be sorry about. Once your friend remembers all that you are dealing with, she will completely understand.

Saying No to Your Kids

Most adults will be sensitive to why you are saying no. Kids aren’t always as understanding. They are giving up a lot during this time. Sit down as a family and decide what the priorities are. Look at your family calendar together (including medical appointments). Look at your resources. Ask your support system for help getting your kids to and from the activities that you decide to commit to. Using a tool such as CaringBridge’s Task Planner can be very helpful with this.

Saying No

Burnout Prevention

When you became a caregiver, you got a new full-time job. You can’t add that commitment of time and energy to your life without dropping some other obligations. This doesn’t mean that you quit everything, though. Find something that you really enjoy doing for yourself. It might be a weekly coffee date with your best friend or an occasional spa day to relax and rejuvenate. It should be something you look forward to; something that feeds you rather than drains you.

The power of No

It’s not terrible for people to ask you if you want to do “this” or participate in “that.” They don’t want to offend you by taking away your right to decide for yourself. In fact, saying no can be something that’s very therapeutic. You may not have control over a lot of things when you are dealing with cancer, but you can sure say no to heading up the church picnic planning committee. Saying no gives you some control over your calendar. So instead of feeling bad about it, feel powerful!


I’m in the early stages of putting together a resource page for caregivers of cancer patients. I’d love it if you’d check it out and email me any suggestions of resources you’d recommend. While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage you on your cancer journey.


I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

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5 comments on “No : The Power of Saying No

Excellent advice about caregiving. My parents both required a lot of care during their final years (my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease and mom had multiple health issues – diabetes/blindness/mobility challenges). Although very rewarding and meaningful…caregiving also can take a toll if boundaries aren’t set and gently saying “no” isn’t used.



You are right, Ann. It really is rewarding, knowing you are giving your loved ones the best care possible. Caring for yourself is part of that. Usually the people we are giving the care to want to see us set limits. And not everyone has the same level of stamina. I don’t have half the energy my friends do, so they may not always understand why I have to say no to things. In the short and long runs, it’s for the best.

There is so much guilt associated with saying no. Even if I have the courage to say the word, I often take it back later. Sigh.

Such an important post (once again), Heather.
Emily Bloomquist recently posted…Nets, Fishing Nets Made in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador #AtoZChallengeMy Profile


Thank you, Emily! Have a great day 🙂

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