There are three groups of people right now:
- people who are grieving and are working with their grief;
- people who are grieving and are suppressing or avoiding their grief;
- people who don’t even know they are grieving.
Everyone is grieving.
Even if you don’t know anyone who died or who is sick.
Jobs. Income. Health. Opportunities. A way of life. The world as we knew it. Happy hour. The people you used to see every day at work, or the yoga studio, or the other places you’d go. Certainty. Perceptions of control. Routines. A sense of identity. People.
We are ill-equipped to deal with the fallout.
I’m not talking about the hospital beads and ventilators and deaths.
The grief fallout.
One of my inboxes receives a constant stream of emails with advice about what you can do to stay in touch with clients and how you can leverage this time to build business.
Equally important — if not moreso — is how to work with your grief. How to care for yourself in these times.
Not just physically — I think we have hand-washing covered right now.
Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.
What are you doing with that grief? Are you even aware that it is inside you?
Because we don’t talk about this in our culture. Most “leaders” are ill-equipped to deal with it. (By “leaders” I mean managers and executives, who are given the general title of “leader” whether earned or not.)
“Stay strong” is not an empowering message. It’s a platitude.
Nobody needs another email in their inbox from your company about “what we’re doing now” or “how we’re responding” or — my favorite — information about the social distancing and what to do. Please. I think everyone is reading the news.
What we need right now is space to share what we’re feeling and fearing right now. People always want to be heard, not spoken to. That need is extra prominent in a time of trauma.
Perhaps we would see more attention on this if people knew there was a financial cost involved. According to one estimate, grief-related losses cost U.S. companies as much as $75 billion annually.
Are we helping kids process the grief? How can we if adults can’t even talk about it?
If we want to come out of this stronger on the other side, if you want to be ready to seize the moment when things roar back to life, we must start holding space for this grief now.
Let’s not waste the opportunity to get in front of another epidemic.