Last week we lost my father-in-law. It’s been a whirlwind of a week, with my husband travelling 2 hours north to his dad’s house for the week to deal with things and me staying home to take care of our 2-year-old and support as much as I can from afar.
This is the third time in 2 years that we’ve gone through a loss of some sort. Each time, it’s sent shockwaves through our lives that at first feels like the rug has been pulled from under us.
I know we’re not the only ones going through things like this. The more clients I meet, the more stories I hear of loss, challenges, and hardships, along with resilience and perseverance. I’ve learned a lot from from hearing others’ stories and my own journey running a business in the midst.
Here are few things I’ve learned about dealing with grief and loss while working
- Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need. We are our biggest critics and can be hard on ourselves. “I am weak for needing time away from work”, which is far from the truth. Work will still be there when you get back, especially if you have great coworkers and clients. You can’t predict these things and can’t plan for them, but you can give yourself the same grace to be human as you would give others.
- Communicate and be vulnerable with the people you work with. In the past two years, I’ve been very blessed to work with amazing coworkers and clients who have all been understanding. I’ve learned that communication is key in order to get the support you need. If they don’t know, they can’t help. (A special shoutout to my awesome assistant from Dilaab Digitals who has kept up with my posts while I’ve taken some time away)
- Accept help and support. When our first loss happened, it was really hard for me to accept help. I didn’t want to burden anyone else or impose on them in any way. I felt uncomfortable saying yes to help offered. But as time has gone on I’ve realized what a huge difference it makes in easing the pain ever so slightly, and those around me are so generous and happy to help. Not only that but it brings you closer to those you love when you can share in a difficult time.
- Take things one day at a time. It’s easy to want to have everything figured out all at once. When life feels out of control, we grasp at the things we can control, or even try to control things we can’t. But that leads to more stress and worry and sleepless nights. Everything will get figured out in time, so focus only on the immediate next steps until the fog clears a little. Which brings me to the next point,
- Prioritize urgent things only during the critical first couple of weeks. Again, you can’t do everything. It’s impossible. So choose the highest priority items and do them or delegate them. Other things will fall through the cracks but they’ll resurface again at a time when you can manage them.
- Do something nice for yourself. An act of kindness for yourself, though it may seem a little odd at first, can help you deal with grief. Making yourself a tea in the evening, cuddling up in your favourite blanket, or booking yourself a massage, are all supportive acts that help with self-compassion. And self-compassion is helpful in dealing with grief.
- Go to therapy. Just do it. Especially if you think you don’t need it. Head to psychologytoday.com, interview a couple of therapists, find one you click with, and it’ll change your life.
If you’re also going through something like this right now, whether you’re a business owner, employee, or job seeker, I’m sending you love and strength.