At the start of 2022, I lost my mother to a short but intense battle with cancer. In a matter of months, my life was completely turned upside down. I lost my best friend, my confidant and my prayer warrior and as a result, I temporarily paused taking on clients to focus on the wellness of my family and myself.
Despite me not taking on clients, I was still burying myself in working on the weeds in my business. Something I later realized was just a way for me to avoid facing what I was feeling.
Entrepreneurs typically don't do a great job of taking care of themselves. And we're not the best at asking for help. We're often too buried in our work to take a break to eat, sleep or even participate in self-care, and this is on a normal day when we're not grieving. So I'm sure you can imagine how chaotic our lives become when we are.
As soon as my mom passed, my close friends and family didn't hesitate to show up and provide support for me. In this post, I want to share all the ways that i was shown support during this tough time that you can consider doing the next time someone in your life (entrepreneur or not) loses a loved one.
Below is a list of the many ways you can support a grieving entrepreneur:
Food: Many entrepreneurs that are deep into their work and either forget eating or skip it altogether. When they’re grieving, the same applies. They’re likely taking on the role of leading and project managing service arrangements for their loved one, leaving them with little time to think about or cook something from eat. You can support your entrepreneur loved one by cooking for them, ordering them their favorite meal, grocery shopping for them or even sending them a Uber Eats gift card (shout out to my friends!)
Be specific in what you ask (language matters). Avoid saying "let me know what/if you need anything." I have to admit that I've even used it before with loved ones. While this is sincere and comes from a good place , it puts too much onus on the person that is grieving. Of course they need something! Think about what you need when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. All you can think about is surviving to the next day. Rephrase the ask to be “What exactly can I take off your plate right now?" "Have you eaten?" What can I order for you to eat?" The goal here is to relieve stress for your loved one, not add to it.
Offer to field communications to friends or family about the passing of their loved one. When someone passes, it's usually a mad dash to inform everyone and plan the funeral arrangements. Offering to be the messenger of this tough news can be a huge help to your entrepreneur loved one.
Give them space. This one can be tough to navigate because everyone is different and the one grieving may not even know what it is that they want. But from my experience, giving space can be a good bet. This can look like sending a text instead of calling, or waiting a few days after finding out the news before reaching out. The idea is to let them know that you are thinking of them without putting pressure on them to respond. FaceTime calls are something you should avoid (unless they initiate it).
Send them a letter. It’s a passive way of letting them know you’re thinking of them without making them feel pressured to respond. It's also a nice keepsake, if they're the sentimental type.
Gift them a self-care service. If they're the type to consistently get professional grooming like getting their hair or nails done, this is a good way of helping them keep up with their normal routine. Gifting them a professional massage is also a great idea (shoutout to my friends!). They're experiencing an enormous amount of stress right now and a massage could be a great release for them.
What ways of supporting grieving loved ones would you add to this list?