I can still remember the way the way those stark hospital walls looked the night my twin brother passed away. Even four years later, feelings of grief still plague me, making even the sunniest of days dark.
For me, grief comes in waves and when it hits, it hits hard, making it difficult to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.
Running a business is difficult--and when you're dealing with grief it even seem impossible. Here's what I've learned over the years about working with and coping with grief.
1. Open up and talk about your pain.
Grief is a subject that many people feel uncomfortable talking about---myself included. The months following my brother's death, I didn't want to talk about what had happened.
I didn't feel that anyone would know what I was going through. Instead of surrounding myself with support, I suffered alone.
Over the years, I've learned to open up about my pain and during those times have found so many others who have had similar experiences. "Grief has long been a taboo topic." says Gina Moffa, a psychotherapist who specializes in grief and loss. "People are afraid to ask about it, afraid to bring up a topic that they believe will make the other person feel worse. In reality, they are protecting themselves."
It can be hard to know where to turn when you're the one in charge. Talk to your team and ask them if they can help out with any pending tasks on your to-do list while you take some time to organize affairs and to be with your family. Chances are they'll be more understanding than you would imagine.
It's also OK to ask friends or family member to pitch in when you're struggling. You might think that your business can't run without you--but it still can keep going with the support of those who care about you.
2. Take good care your health.
Whenever I'm feeling down, I'll often skip meals in sadness or try to numb my pain with alcohol. Both of these things can be self-sabotaging.
When you don't feel your best it can be hard to handle even the simplest of tasks. Now, when I'm having a day where I'm feeling sad, I remind myself that I'll be more equipped to handle the coming days if I opt for yoga instead of the bar.
"What we seldom take to mind is the toll grief and loss will taker on our bodies." says Moffa. "Our nervous system is going through a major overhaul. Our endocrine system, our hormones, our organs are all aware of this great loss we have just suffered, and they are working overtime to keep us functioning as normally as we can, despite the more fragile immune system."
Moffa advises to make sure to eat nourishing foods, rest your body as needed, exercise moderately, and to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. She also recommends asking a close friend to check in on you to make sure you take care of yourself.
3. Be kind to yourself.
When grief halts my productivity, I often berate myself with negative self talk: "Why can't you can't complete anything today?" or "What's wrong with you?"
Over the years, I've learned to be kinder to myself. Now when I catch myself not being kind, I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and I can only take it one step at a time. Running a business is like running marathon, not a sprint. They'll be days you can't run as fast as you'd like. And it's OK.
"Be gentle with yourself." says Moffa. "Go slower, take breaks, catch yourself if you find yourself berating yourself for forgetting something or not meeting the expectations of those around you."
Grief isn't easy. Thankfully, you're not alone. By opening up to others and being kind to yourself, you'll be able to handle a difficult time.