While the thought of grief brings to mind the loss of a loved one, it can exist for many less obvious reasons. We grieve a marriage when it ends in divorce, the home we leave behind during a move, and the innocence of childhood as our kids mature into adulthood. Entrepreneurs sometimes grieve during a difficult period in their business. They grieve missed experiences with their family and friends. Pretty much any loss, even the loss of a dream, will trigger grief.
In the midst of the grieving process, you experience pain in your heart, but your brain is affected as well. You may feel as though you are in a fog and your cognitive response and recall aren't what they usually are. You may struggle to make decisions and find it difficult to concentrate well enough to complete even the simplest task. These side-effects are natural responses to loss, but they can leave you wondering what is wrong with yourself and whether you will ever be "normal" again. The thing is, all of these feelings and symptoms are a part of being a normal human being. Yet, for an entrepreneur business must go on. Perhaps these tips will help.
Grief is not a sign of weakness.
Some people tend to be embarrassed by their grief. Entrepreneurs may feel the need to hide it from their employees. This is the time to ask your team for support, not turn away from it. At some point, you may want to throw yourself into your work as a distraction, but first, make room to process your loss and allow others to assist you. Grieving does not make you weak, it makes you human.
Setting a routine can help you feel stronger and offer more of a sense of control, which is something we crave during this time. The key is to simplify your routine, not bog yourself down with work--at least in the first weeks. Ask others to pick up some slack, whether it's to help in your personal life, or work, or both. Build in time without any obligations and your work time will be more productive.
You need time to process your loss.
The emotion-related region of the brain called the amygdala triggers a protective response when we grief. It actually instructs your body to resist the pain of grief. You are likely to experience physical responses which are triggered by a memory, a visual, a scent, or anything that offers a reminder of your loss. The resistance prompts us to push away our feelings, rather than process them. This can have a damaging impact on your ability to heal; it's important to take the time to grieve.
Simplify your routine.
While you may have work to do, don't expect the same results that you typically produce, and certainly not in the same amount of time. Take breaks, go home early if you feel the need. What projects can you place on a temporary hold? Are there clients you can call and delay delivery? Better yet, have someone else call them. Don't sacrifice your need (and right) to assimilate your losses and feelings.
Don't be surprised by the cycle of grief.
Grief is not a linear process. We don't start at rock bottom and progress smoothly and steadily back to life as usual. You may wake up and make it through the first half of your day without that foreboding feeling in your gut. Just as you think you're in the home stretch the grief will peak once again. You'll possibly go days, or even weeks, feeling closer to your old self again and then, for what seems like no reason at all, be hit with painful waves of anger, angst, and sometimes a sense of shock. If you ride these waves, rather than resist them, you will come back stronger each time.
You can't control grief, but you can help your body release the stress of it. Make time to exercise and eat properly. You may believe you don't have the time, but you'll get much more done after you step away for a while to release the stress and take care of yourself.
There is no time limit on grief.
The belief that we go through stages of grief in a certain order and specific timeframe is a myth. We often hear bystanders making remarks like, "It's been six months, shouldn't she be better by now?" If only it were that easy. Grief is not a cycle, it is a life-changing process.
As time goes by you may wish to celebrate your fond memories. I believe this helps to direct the brain to view the loss differently. If you have a meaningful milestone within site, dedicate it to you're the person or whatever it is that you lost. If you are grieving the end of your marriage or something you view as a failure, funnel your negative feelings into a special project or something that drives you toward completion and success.