How to Grieve Whilst Running a Business
Losing a loved one is heart-breaking and brings up a whole rollercoaster of emotions which can come and go for a long time. Grief changes our life, it changes who we are and it affects our life in so many ways! From struggling to get out of bed each day, to being unable to concentrate on work and in some cases mental health problems too.
Last year I experienced the unexpected loss of my nan and she was the first real relative I had lost since I was 10 years of age. I didn’t really feel much emotion or grief properly until after the funeral and I also didn’t expect to feel the emotions that did come up – fear and panic being the main ones. I was constantly exhausted, had tons of work to do that I didn’t feel up to completing, I couldn’t concentrate and was having anxiety attacks and random crying outbursts a lot.
When experiencing these symptoms most people are able to get some bereavement leave from work, or at least have paid sick leave. Unfortunately for those of us who run businesses, we do not have this benefit! We have customers relying on us to make their orders, we have suppliers to pay, accounts to do, marketing to arrange and keep on top of, events to plan and the list goes on! I managed to make it through the worst days without any hiccups in my business and so I wanted to share the things that helped me with you:
1: Sleep (A LOT)
I did this due to the exhaustion I felt, which can be hard to do when you have so much work pending but I ensured that in my waking hours I got my urgent work done without any other distractions. This mainly included making orders, packaging and posting orders, ordering stock and responding to enquiries and emails.
2: Don’t beat yourself up for having a day off.
If I was really down, overly emotional or having an anxiety attack then I took the day off to sleep, do some prayer and meditation and chill out. One day off will not cause the world to end, so take the day off to recoup without feeling guilty and get back into the business world tomorrow.
This one isn’t for everyone but I personally found that church and prayer massively helped me through my grieving process. For some people counselling or talking therapy can help too as just having someone to talk to and getting everything off your chest can help so much at these difficult times.
4: Write down your thoughts and feelings
Writing down my thoughts and feelings on paper really helped me to ‘release’ them and also to figure out how I was really feeling and what exact thoughts were on my mind at that time. I found this process helped me with moving forward a little bit and also controlling my emotions better.
5: Inform your customers.
Dependant on your business and customers it may be possible to inform your customers of what has happened. I didn’t post anything about my grief publically but I did inform individual customers that had ordered or were enquiring. I reassured customers that there wouldn’t be a delay in their order being processed, however I may be a bit slower on the emails and contact side. I have a very small business so I have a good bond and relationship with all of my customers and this helped me feel so much more supported at the time, particularly because 90% of my customers are also grieving so we helped each other.
6: Gentle exercise
I found gentle exercise (swimming, stretching and walking) to be a great help for me when I was grieving. Not only is the exercise a distraction from life and stress but it gives you something else to focus on. Exercise also helps to release any pent up stress and emotion in your body, making it a great stress reliever.
7: Write lists
During the grieving process you can experience major brain fog (due to the emotion and lack of sleep) especially when you have so much to do and focus on that you don’t know where to start. When I am stressed I always find writing lists majorly helps me. I will write a to-do list of any business tasks I need to complete and their priority, (the low priority ones can wait if necessary) along with general life tasks such as shopping and appointments. It also helps to have a list in place for any funeral arranging that you need to do. I didn’t have much involvement with my nans funeral planning but for those of you who do have to handle the planning a list can really help.
8: Have a pamper day
I ensured I booked in a few spa days, massages, beauty treatments etc. and they helped me to relax a lot at such a highly stressful time. Doing this also made me feel better about myself in general as the lack of sleep was causing me bad acne, dull skin and bags under my eyes which just made me feel even worse, so the pampering helped me look and feel so much better and more relaxed.
9: Try to eat and drink well
When we are grieving it can be so easy to turn to alcohol and junk food but not only will doing this make you feel worse, it will affect your energy, your sleep, your mood, your appearance and your emotions. As tempting as it can be to give in to binge days and alcohol - eating well and drinking lots of water will help you in the long run and prevent you from heading down a slippery slope of health issues. There is nothing wrong with having the occasional binge days, as we all have them, particularly at emotional times, but looking after yourself will help you in every way and will help to keep your mental health in good shape too.
10: Remember the good times
I personally find thinking too much causes me to get even more emotional but on those bad days it is important to remember the good times we had with the person we have lost and how lucky we are to have had such memories with them. Regret can be one of the strong emotions that can come up when we are grieving, whether it’s regret for not seeing them more, regret for things we have said or even regret for not being there when they passed.
It is important to forgive yourself and to understand that we are only human! We all do and say things we regret, we all have emotions, we all make wrong choices sometimes but your loved one would have known deep down that you loved them and that is all that matters.
Try to find comfort in this and forgive yourself and forgive them for anything that may have gone wrong in the past. Within my business I engrave photos and handwriting onto jewellery and gifts and I have found this a huge comfort, not only for my customers but also for me! Sometimes having an item with their photo on, or even a lock of their hair can provide comfort by feeling like you have them here with you.
If you are struggling alot and feel like you need further support then please contact your GP or an organisation such as Cruse Bereavement on 0808 808 1677.
Emma Thomson is the owner of gemzbyemz.co.uk – specialising in personalised jewellery and gifts engraved with your choice of photo or handwriting. You can view our range of bereavement products and gifts here.