My parent is very sick with covid and I have a virtual leaving drinks planned that I'd rather not attend, is there a way I can politely decline the invite?

I'm in an emotional state as it is and do not get along with all my co-workers as it is... I would rather avoid the awkwardness and leave without a fuss.

How can I politely decline without burning bridges?

  • 1
    Might be useful workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/139942/…
    – Neo
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:05
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    Couldn't you just say, "Sorry, I came into contact with my parents who have covid-19 and out of an abundance of caution, I must decline the offer???" What is wrong with that? Unless you're going to work despite your parents being sick in which case you need to go home immediately.
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:23
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    @Dan She said "virtual drinks." I think this is like sign onto Zoom and everyone has a drink at their house. Those are awkward even when you are not worried about your family. Tammy- I hope everything works out for you and your parent.
    – Damila
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:55
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    Tammy, are you the one leaving? So you are the guest of honor as it were?
    – Damila
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:56
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    is there a way I can politely decline the invite? Yes. Politely decline the invite. Are you asking us how to be polite or are you asking us to tell you exactly what to say? "My apologies but I won't be able to make it" seems perfectly acceptable.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 1:17

1 Answer 1


Just say something along the lines of:

"Sorry, I have a family matter that I need to address and I won't be able to make it for drinks."

If you communicate this in text add a smiley or something to convey tone. People are reasonable and everyone is going through stuff right now I can't imagine this would be held against you by any reasonable person.

Edit: I missed this was for leave/resignation I have updated the answer

  • 1
    Hmm, never include "sorry" - it is a huge point of confusion and will just, well, confuse readers. You're not "sorry", and you're not looking for alternatives. So, I'd say just deleted the "Sorry, "
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:08
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    I'm Canadian, so possible a cultural difference on this but I would include it as a nicety, especially if the event is already planned. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:15
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    @PatrickKelly - As an Australian, I'd also use the word. I mean - drinks aren't planned as a punishment. They're a gesture of good-will. Not saying sorry as you refused them would for me, further cement how much we don't get along.
    – enhzflep
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:23
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    As an alternative to "sorry", something like "thanks for your understanding" carries a similar conciliatory tone without the connotations of accepting fault.
    – G_B
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 21:55
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    "Sends their apologies" is the formal expression of regret for being unable to attend a meeting or event, so "Sorry" in this context seems perfectly clear (and polite) to me. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 22:49

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