(I posted about this on my Facebook page last week and it generated amazing discussion and so I wanted to share it here too.)
What’s been on my mind lately is Grief + Business.
I’ve had so many clients, friends and colleagues facing loss and having to make a seat at the table for grief that I felt it was time to open up the conversation somehow. Life is full of loss and letting go. And it’s tempting to keep it quiet or try to press on with old goals, plans and offers. To ‘get back’ to things as they were. But I know now that won’t do.
See, I spent the better part of late 2014/early 2015 navigating deep grief following the loss of my mom (following a 10 year journey of illness & decline where it felt like we were losing her bit by bit) and it definitely impacted my work and business.
At first I found myself wishing I had a job to go to…where someone else was in charge, telling me what to do to be productive. I wanted structure. All the freedom I had fought for as an entrepreneur no longer felt like it fit. I felt highly unproductive for several months.
Grief + pushing for productivity don’t always play well together, I found. It took the better part of 6 months before I felt any sense of productivity or motivation.
I think I expected grief to be all up front, loud and in my face. It wasn’t. My grief was a quiet companion. Sometimes loud and demanding, but often just along for the ride.
When grief joined my business, I had to slow way down. It asked me to really simplify. To get honest about what I wanted and was willing to spend my precious energy on. Which allowed me a level of clarity that I found surprising…I just wasn’t willing to do certain things anymore, or tolerate certain situations or take on work that didn’t feel joyful. I said NO to an awful lot in those months. And it felt pretty good.
*I* was changed and realized, very suddenly, that I had become a different person. And I needed to get to know this new me. My wants, needs and priorities were suddenly shifted. I had new opportunities. New insights. New imperatives. And a lot of questions about what that meant/looked like/led, etc…
For me, grief wasn’t just about letting go and saying goodbye. It was about embracing this new me and a new identity. That was a surprise. And a continued unfolding.
I opened up to getting support in ways I would normally bristle. I’ve had a long life of “I can do it myself, thanks” and I finally conceded that maybe, just maybe, having help would feel really really good.
I came out the other side feeling clearer, stronger and happier. And my business was better too (on all fronts…the numbers, my joyfulness, the clients I get to serve, and the creative work that’s now emerging.)
I wish I had some profound wisdom to share, but what I know is that the transformation grief offers can be great. But the process isn’t easy. And you have to allow it, welcome it and trust it. For a while it will be an insistent and ever-present partner in your business and life.
I’d love to hear what you’re experiences are with grief + business life. Willing to share?