And so it happened for me and threw me into a whirlwind of grief and sadness. I lost my father in early April, and there is absolutely nothing in this world to prepare me for this kind of loss. It affects everything, and it certainly affected my business. Thankfully, I have had some incredible support from my clients; and I’m incredibly thankful for them.
Running a business without a team to pick up the slack forced me to show up and do the work. But there was no way I was doing this at 100% capacity. It took a little bit of openness to seek the support that was needed. So, with that, I want to share some tips from my recent experience as a solopreneur when in the midst of grief and loss.
Discuss your situation with your clients:
We are all human, and as uncomfortable as it might seem, clients appreciate knowing what’s going on with the people they contract for work. Send an email, or if you can handle talking on the phone, discuss your situation and let them know that you’ll be taking a little time to process grief.
Keep them updated:
Touch base with your clients. Let them know where you’re at on expected projects. The last thing we want to do is miss deadlines, but if one is creeping up and you need an extension or extra creative support, let them know.
Take the time you need to grieve:
As hard as it is, I had to listen to the grief when it held me back. The moments that I went against the process, it hit me ten-fold later in the day or in a moment when I needed to get through a deadline. When I allowed grief to hit me, and I rode that wave, I was able to come back to the project with a little more clarity, vs. the times that I tried to push through and swim against the current.
Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg has recently implemented a 20-day policy at Facebook for grieving; and I hope to see other businesses follow suit. A couple of days is not going to cut it, and I feel like some family close to me could’ve benefited from more time to process. Even still, this kind of policy doesn’t work for me, because someone has to keep my business afloat and that someone in a solo position is ME! I was back in my office the next week trying to work and took everything just to keep up with email, and each week following was more productive than the last, but I realized in hindsight, it took me about two months to finally feel focused and ready to return to my studio.
“Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be. … Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of ‘waves.'”
Grief is like the sea. Sometimes it’s calm, other times it’s swallowing you in a tsunami of emotion. Let it, because resisting makes it worse, in my experience at least.
I’m going to leave you with a few resources shared with me, along with some articles that I stumbled on along the way. I wish for no one to feel the heartbreak of losing a parent, or anyone that you hold dear. If you do, I hope this helps you to give yourself permission to take care of you to be able to take care of your work.
Option B, Sheryl Sandberg
Joan Didion on Grief
Seneca on Grief
Grieving the Death of a Parent, Nancy Stordahl
Take care, friends.