How to Grieve a Little Easier as an Entrepreneur

My grandmother passed away in October. At the same time, my business reached its highest sales with $20k+ revenue. We had only done $6k the month before. 

It happened so fast. Two weeks before I saw her in the hospital, the last time I truly spoke to her… My grandmother was upset with me because I didn’t have time to spend with her. I thought I didn’t have time to wait for my grandmother to cook me a meal. I wish so much that I could go back to that day and say fuck my schedule, sit down, and eat that meal.

My grandmother looked so healthy. She had lost so much weight. I told my grandmother if she was able to wait a few years, she could probably see me get married.

When my mother called telling me that my grandmother was in the hospital after two surgeries, I was scared but hopeful. I went to the hospital and spoke to the doctor. My grandmother had had surgeries before. This would just be another one. She would be fine. I gave my family false hope. The reality was that she was in the surgical ICU and she had already had two surgeries. I should have known better that it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe then my cousin and aunt would have been able to see her one last time. The last time I saw my grandmother alive, her entire body was bloated. Her neck sagged and bulged, she had boils all over. She had lots of tubes sticking out of her, I was terrified I would hurt her if I touched her. She was on life support and her organs were failing. When she passed away, I felt peace knowing that she was truly in a better place, compared to the physical horror that her body had become.

While all this was happening, I still had a business to run. I had orders to make and fill. But in that darkness, nothing mattered anymore. All I wanted was for my grandmother to be alive. I would have given anything. I hated myself.

For days on end, I cried. I would make it into the office and try to work only to sob silently in front of my computer as I watched TED talks on how to deal with grief. Slowly I started to cry less but even today, I still cry at least once a week. I’ll be in the car and a song will come on and I’ll think of my grandmother.

For the first month, all that haunted me was that I would never be able to hold my grandmother ever again. I wished so dearly that I could hug her and smell her perfume. One night I got lucky because I got to hug her again in a dream. That was the best dream I ever had in my life.

I’m sharing this personal post because I want to be open about the struggles of entrepreneurship. Grief is hard but it’s a lot harder when you’re a business owner.

Especially when none of it feels like it matters anymore. When you forget why you were even doing it in the first place because all you can feel is a dark hole in your chest and you just want to hug a coffin. Especially when you feel so guilty that you wonder if you were neglecting the more important parts of your life in pursuit of entrepreneurship.

I’m not an expert but if you ever find yourself in a place like this… give yourself time to grieve. Forgive yourself. Remember the good times.

A week after the funeral, I was sitting in my office, feeling really bad because I wasn’t getting any work done. I had to sit there and think to myself, I just buried my grandmother last week, I can cut myself some slack right now.

Tragedies will happen. I am grateful that I had some processes in place to make things a lot easier, so I could just go through the motions for a bit. I also learned though that you can forget your processes if you neglect them. Not only that but in an Amazon business, things can get old real quick. Change happens.

This month I lost almost 80% of my revenue by losing my top 3 brands. However, I am grateful because it taught me to not get complacent, to always remember the competition, and because it forced me to adapt and evolve.

I’m not sure what you can do for someone who is grieving but I was very hurt when the people I considered my close friends did not say a word to me about my loss. I went from 600 Facebook friends to 200. I wanted to remove a lot from my life.

I wish that my team had stepped up but I understand because that’s my failure. I never asked. I wish that people could have invited me out so I could get my mind off things. That’s my fault too. I didn’t ask.

But I think the point is that when someone’s going through something like that- they really can’t ask. So please ask for them.

If you’re ever in a position where someone you care about, especially an entrepreneur is grieving, please reach out. Life sucks for us most of the time and we need all the support we can get.

Keep it up. Get after it.

tl;dr:

How to grieve a little easier as an entrepreneur:
1. Have processes.
2. Cut yourself (a lot) of slack.
3. Ask for help.
 
How to help a grieving entrepreneur:
1. Give condolences.
2. Take them outside.

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