Navigating Business Life After Loss: 3 Tips For A Brighter Tomorrow Coping with Loss as a Freelancer
Updated: Nov 26
Amidst the ebb and flow of freelance life, one challenge can be particularly daunting: the loss of a loved one. I'm not sure it's a subject that many are excited to touch on; Perhaps it is too taboo. I am not one to shy away from such things so I am here today to start the conversation.
For freelancers and small business owners, the grief that accompanies such a loss can cast a long shadow over their entrepreneurial journey. In these moments of heartache and despair, however, there is a glimmer of hope – a hope I want to explore in this article.
In the wake of a loved one's passing, returning to the rhythm of freelancing and entrepreneurship can feel like an uphill battle. Particularly when you are working remotely. I have found that the dynamic of losing a loved one when I worked outside the home made the transition back to work easier- I wasn't isolated from my peers as I am this time around. Yet, within the darkest moments, the human spirit can find strength and resilience. This article is a guide through the emotional terrain of transitioning back into your professional life.
Today, I'll focus on three pivotal steps to coping with loss as a freelancer:
Practicing self-care and seeking vital support
Rebuilding your Routine
Finding Inspiration in Memories
These are the foundations upon which you can rebuild your work routine and, ultimately, find inspiration in the memories of your loved one. It's a journey that requires courage, compassion, and, above all, grace.
Join me as I explore these initial steps, offering insights and strategies that can guide you through the often-difficult process of reentering the world of freelancing and entrepreneurship after the loss of a loved one. Your future can still be filled with success, even amidst the sorrow.
Self-Care and Support
Self-care is critical in these early days and that can look a little bit different for everyone. For me, it was to take some time away from my work to focus on some of the things that had gone by the wayside while I was traveling back and forth from GA to NY to spend time and visit with my Mom in her final days.
The Monday after I was home, I was scheduled to pick up a baby Kunekune boar to add to our now farmish life.
She passed on a Friday afternoon and I made the 15-hour drive back to Georgia the very next day. Solo Road Trips happen to be a favorite escape. I had little time to grieve in those first two days as I had to get up the next morning and install a paddock and a shelter for him. So, bright and early that Sunday morning after I arrived home, I was out in the pasture, pounding T-posts into the ground through my tears while my husband built his shelter that I had assembled a frame for a few days before. Once we were done and Elvis came home, I took a few weeks off to get my mind right. For me, self-care this time around meant busying myself with caring for our menagerie of animals who, quite frankly, were like therapy animals in a sense.
Seek refuge in the people and activities that comfort you. If you don't have an established friend group or family to provide that, seek a professional to help you navigate these early days of transitioning back into a new normal. Their guidance will be invaluable.
Rebuilding Your Routine
This should be gradual. I find it much more difficult as a freelancer than it is when you are working outside the home with the safety net of having coworkers who can lend an ear or step in for you when you're having a hard time. The hardest part is remembering to give yourself a little grace. It's also the most crucial. I'm not really out of the woods yet, as I am in the planning stages of setting up a Memorial Mass for her in early January, so I'm still in the thick of it for a little while longer. I am grateful for my Aunt/Godmother, Uncle, and cousins who are stepping in to help. It's quite a surreal thing to be the one in charge of planning something like that when the loved one you are memorializing is the adult who has always been the one in charge of those things in the past. For me, Grace looks a little bit like this right now:
Not taking on any new clients until I have made it through the Holiday season and handled the Memorial Service, focusing only on my current clients until then.
I take breaks as often as I need them to either hang with Elvis the piglet in the sunshine & fresh air or hug a duck or two. Animals have been a running theme for comfort in hard times my whole life. These breaks are a new boundary set and they are not negotiable right now.
Taking small manageable steps is the best way to get back into the swing of things. For me, before I could get back to work, I sat down and took a good hard look at my calendar and decided what stayed and what went. I overhauled my typical schedule in favor of time blocking my days with lighter work and smaller projects to allow a little extra time for the days when my sleep might not be so restful. And boy am I glad I did, As I write this very paragraph, my mind is on "more coffee" for the lack of quality sleep last night. ☕️
As far as my time management and goals are concerned, I find that my self-control is lying helpless on the floor these days so if I wander into distraction, instead of trying to force myself out of it, I just roll with it. Any goals I have set for the year have been paused, they're not going anywhere, so I can revisit them after the Memorial. If it takes me 3x longer to finish a task than it typically would before, so be it.
As my mom always used to say, "This too, shall pass." And she's right. It always does.
Finding Inspiration in Memories
My mom was a hugely creative person. And always into music. Growing up, she was always making something; whether it be gourmet meals (she was an excellent cook), making wreaths and home decor, or sewing clothes for herself and for me; she was always a busy bee. Lately, I find myself listening to songs that remind me of my childhood when she would spend the weekend cleaning the house with the disco, Motown, or The Mamas & the Papas blasting out of the open windows and dancing while she vacuumed. While I'm not dancing around with the vacuum in her honor, I do have the Spotify playlist that I made for her while she was in hospice to listen to while I complete my client work on some days. It is filled with all of those songs. I know that neither she nor my Dad would want to see me or my brother wallowing in our grief. And they certainly wouldn't want to see us not succeed in our endeavors because we allowed it to take over. So, I use that as motivation to keep life moving forward.
Another thing she used to always say is "And idle mind is the devil's workshop". And she was right about that too. So, rather than allowing yourself to sit idle during this time, I encourage you to use your happy memories of your loved one that has passed as fuel for your creativity. Honor their memory by pursuing your dreams and letting nothing stand in your way. Not even grief.
In the world of freelancing and small business ownership, challenges are a constant companion, and personal loss can cast a long shadow. As you journey back into your entrepreneurial life after loss, remember that you're not alone. Self-care, support, and rebuilding your routine provide the stepping stones to a brighter future. In grief, hope persists. Every victory is not just a step forward in your professional life but a tribute to your resilience and love.
I invite you to leave a comment with your own experiences and advice in the hope that it may help readers who find themselves transitioning back to work life after loss.
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