Being an entrepreneur affords me the luxury of having a laptop business. I can work at any time from anywhere. So when my love was admitted in the hospital days before, that’s exactly what I did. I packed up my iPad, client notes, phone, and charger and went to the hospital to be with him. It was important to me that he didn’t feel lonely or abandoned during his hospital stay.
I held conference calls, updated projects, made new business connections all while at his bedside. It was the first time he really got to see me “in action” and I think he actually enjoyed seeing my mind at work. I even started working on the outline for the book my business coach and I discussed a while back.
In addition to being “Your Next Big Move Catalyst” where I work with clients to create a game plan to move them from idea to implementation, I’m also a mom of one, a daughter to two parents—one of which has various health challenges—and a friend to several. My days are jammed packed with meetings, project schedules, school pick up and drop offs, doctors appointments, errands, meal preparations, nurturing business relationships and protecting personal relationships.
On February 3, 2017, my love’s heart stopped and it seemed as if mine stopped too. I have lost people in my past so I wasn’t unfamiliar with grief, but this level of grief was different. On top of that, there was no time in my schedule to grieve. The pain was paralyzing. I literally sat in the hospital parking lot for 2 hours before I was even able to drive away because leaving made everything too real. For days, I was barely able to get out of bed. I didn’t have the words to describe what I felt. All I could do was cry and try to sleep. I’d never experienced this weight of emotions before so I couldn’t compartmentalize or suppress them. I just figured I’d deal with them all later—until now.
He passed away on a Friday so that gave me the weekend to grieve but on Monday morning, I had clients who needed me to show up. Their lives hadn’t stopped. Their projects were still moving forward and it was my job to keep everyone motivated and on schedule. But what do you do when you simply don’t have anything to give and you are a company of one? Even if I had a team, my business is ran based on my knowledge, unique skill set and gifts. How could my teamwork without me present?
Luckily for me, at this exact moment in time, I have an amazing set of clients who were (and still are) genuinely concerned about my well-being and gave me the space to grieve. But at as businesswoman and perfectionist, I felt the need to rush. I gave myself one and a half weeks to grieve. I felt that is all I could afford to take. And truth be told, I thought that was all of the time I needed to get my feelings under control. Boy was I was WRONG!
Here we are a month and a few days later and all of my emotions are still as raw as the day it all happened. And now, I have another emotion to deal with—guilt. I feel guilty for not being “present” for my clients during the days I took to grieve. And even though I’m back working full time (I ended up taking 3 weeks off), I feel guilty for needing breaks in my day to gather myself. Even though I’m all caught up on projects and deliverables, I still feel guilty. Even when my clients have cried with me and told me to relax, I feel more guilt for being “unprofessional” and dumping all of my emotional baggage on them.
I am one of those people who will always tell you to honor your feelings and the space you are in. I often say that you can’t be of any good for others if you are not first good to yourself. And in theory, I really do believe that. I believe by nature, all entrepreneurs are in some capacity control freaks. We are able to manage multiple clients, projects and roles in our lives by our ability to control our emotions and manipulate situations. Grief took that away from me. It left me vulnerable in an unfamiliar way. But now is the time to practice what I preach. I know my love would not want me to be stuck. He was my biggest cheerleader in business. I’m back at work full time, giving my clients all that I have. I am back to managing all of my roles as mom, daughter, and friend but I’m also, even in my guilt, taking the time I need to honor my feelings as I move through the stages of grief.
I share this not for sympathy but for so many other entrepreneurs, super moms and dads know that there is someone else out there that “gets it.” I’m here cheering for you, your strength and your peace of mind (and heart).
As Your Next Big Move Catalyst, Twanna has worked as THE Business & Project Strategist for Empress Business Solutions. For more than 5 years, she’s worked exclusively with solopreneurs to start and grow their businesses. For more tips on how to stay more productive and motivated in business, please sign up for our newsletter.