Lifestyle

How Business Owners Can Face Their Loss And Overcome Grief

May 26, 2020

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when your clients started backing out of contracts and your family started canceling vacations? Can you believe that feeling is grief? As business owners, how do we face our loss and overcome our grief so we can work on reviving and growing our businesses?

As the host of the She’s Off Script podcast and as a business strategist, I’ve had the privilege of gaining insight into how the business owners I interview on my show and my clients are coping during this pandemic.

Why Is It Important To Face Grief As Business Owners?

In this post, I’m sharing a visual representation of the sentiments I have heard as well as some tips you can use to identify where you are in the cycle. My first hope is these tips will help you see you are not alone. My second hope is being able to see what you may be going through spelled out in this way will bring you hope, and eventually inspiration to thrive.

It’s worth noting that I am not a licensed psychologist and that the following is based on my personal observations over the past few months.

They say diamonds are created under pressure. As business owners, we are all working through some form of grief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s an unpopular opinion for you… While we all need to take time to work through our rollercoaster of emotions, we simply can’t afford to dwell on the emotion of it all for too long.

So How Long Is Too Long To Grieve?

There is no right answer to that question. We are different people with different mindsets operating in different industries.
Wherever you are with processing our new normal, what I know is true for us all is that we just need to START processing.

No matter where you find yourself today, Spoiler alert…We will all emerge on the other side as different people with different businesses. However, with enough hope, I believe we can successfully lead our teams and businesses through to the other side.

In the last few days, I’ve come to realize that my rollercoaster of feelings mirrors the stages of grief. A bit morbid…I know…but stick with me here.

The Stages Of Grief

In 1969, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross created what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model. After years of observing terminally ill patients, she found that they all went through the same 5 stages: denial; anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance.

For the post, I’m using an enhanced version of her model which includes; denial, desperation for answers, initial acceptance, anger, and hope.

I was embarrassed by the realization that I was grieving because I haven’t lost anyone in my family or really lost anything significant. But in digging deeper, I found that I was grieving for…

people I know have lost entire businesses almost overnight.

the slowdown in parts of my own business.

family vacations we’re no longer taking.

lives that have been lost due to the pandemic.

simple pleasures of having my space all to myself; running errands whenever I please; huddling in person with clients

…the list goes on and on.

If you are a fellow business owner having similar feelings, you don’t need me to tell you this but just know that your feelings are valid. Allow yourself the space and grace to cycle through these emotions. Once you have had a chance to process, and face your loss, you will be in a position to overcome your grief.

So How Do We Face These Feelings of Grief?

Shock

As new stats and facts are shared on the news and across social media, it’s difficult to believe this is actually happening. People are losing jobs, clients are canceling contracts, loved ones are falling ill, store shelves are empty. It’s surreal and feels like a scene out of a movie. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in feeling this way.

Tip:
Take time to sit with the shock…both by yourself and with your loved ones, employees, customers, and community. We’re all going through similar emotions.

Denial

I think we all shake our heads in disbelief at least a few times a day. “I keep hoping to wake up from this nightmare.” I’ve heard this phrase so many times in the last few days.

Tip:
At this phase, it’s important that you do not allow denial to keep you from taking quick and decisive actions. You didn’t get to where you are by burying your head in the sand and pretending the world isn’t changing around you.

Desperately Searching for Answers

Who else has been glued to their news and twitter feeds? What about joining every Instagram Live session held by experts? I know it’s not just me. While it’s important to stay informed, excessive research can be a form of procrastination. Beyond that, focusing on all the negative news can seriously hamper your mental health.

Tip:
Limit yourself to15-minute segments, 3 times a day. That way you are caught up on the morning, afternoon, and evening news cycles.

Initial Acceptance

About a month into quarantine, I began to accept that this was now my new normal. The keyword here is “began”…I created a new morning routine that took into account my husband and kids being home and doubled down on the virtual streams of my business.

Getting to this point did wonders for my business, my family, and my mindset.

I have even become one of those people organizing their homes and baking every recipe under the sun. How did I bring myself to this point?

Tip:
Focus on the things that are within your control. That’s it. Obsessing over everything going on wasn’t bringing me peace of mind.

Anger

Every once in a while, I still get angry. The other day I was bringing in the groceries and found myself getting upset at how long it now takes to unload and sanitize everything. I still think about the live events I was planning and had to cancel.

These stages are more of a cycle than a straight line. Somedays, you may think you’re over it and then find yourself back at step1. In these moments, I realize I’m standing face to face with my loss and need to work to overcome the grief I’m feeling.

Tip:
Starting a gratitude practice has been extremely grounding. It reminds me of how blessed I am; that in the grand scheme of things, we live a privileged life; and that I could be using this negative energy to help others instead.

Hope

Now this is the state I want to live in. Hopefully, if not sometimes cautiously, optimistic. I talk a lot about planning a successful pivot. In order to get to the point where you’re ready to pivot a business, you must first have the right mindset.

Tip:
Try to see all the opportunities this turn of events has created. Remember what I said about diamonds being created under stress? Think about how you can serve those in your community. Think about how staying home can improve your health and your relationship with the family.

Staying hopeful is the key to weathering the storm of uncertainty we are all going through.

If you find yourself cycling through these stages of grief, I hope this post gives you some tools to face your loss and overcome your grief.

If you are feeling hopeful and are ready to pivot your business, let’s talk. I am offering FREE 15-minute pivot chats so we can talk through your next move.

hey there!

I'm Serwaa, your new business strategist.

I’m a digital business strategy expert, headstrong high achiever, mom of two girls and wife to a strapping African man.

Embracing these facets of my life has been the key to breaking through my plateaus!

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