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Grief is…All the Losses

October 30, 20235 min read

Grief is…All the Losses

You may know that in June I fell walking in my neighborhood and broke my left ankle and my right wrist. It threw me for a loop because the spring before I had fallen and broken my right fibula. It felt like deja vu - all over again.

What I had temporarily forgotten was that grief comes with every loss. Let me break it out for you.

The day before I fell I had been to physio and finally been cleared for hiking and paddle boarding this summer after my break last year. Rehab was finally done and my body was mostly working properly again. And then the next day I fell and I’m broken again. My whole summer I had envisioned was gone in an instant. The hiking I had planned to do on a vacation three weeks after I fell. The paddle boarding I planned to do all summer on the various lakes in my area. Walks farther afield with the dog that I had been so looking forward to. All gone.

And I was mad. Oh boy was I mad. And I got a little bit stuck in the mad, sad, glad trifecta. I was stuck on those surface emotions when there's bigger ones underneath. It took me days to realize that what was really going on was grief. As a Grief Educator, I talk about grief all the time. I especially like to talk about how we grieve for all kinds of losses not just those of a loved one. But I didn't see it in my own experience.

When I got past the mad, sad, glad level, I could feel all kinds of grief. Many of the same emotions were there: shock, disappointment, fear, confusion, and that sense of trying to make sense of something that seemed so senseless. I'm not trying to liken the ramifications of this fall with the loss of a loved one but I do want to push us in this area.

If we could talk about grief with these smaller losses we have a golden opportunity to practice. I had so many people say things like, “Oh my gosh I can't believe this happened again”, “I'm so sorry this happened to you”, “You must feel so frustrated”. Very similar things that they might say at the loss of a loved one. But the stakes are much lower. No one was scared to say something. No one hesitated to offer to help.

I think that's something we don't feel when people are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Those losses feel so big. So beyond our ability to understand. Even though death is a normal and natural part of life we feel uncomfortable saying anything. We don't know what to say or do so often we end up saying and doing nothing. We don't want to make the person feel worse or do any harm and we get tangled in fear. Nobody seemed to feel that hesitation when they were commiserating about my broken bones.

I was surprised at the level that this loss impacted my productivity. I've been working on some big projects and they slowed right down. I managed to meet pre-existing commitments and deadlines and otherwise needed to just rest and take care of myself. This was new for me too as I've been a chronic over achiever for most of my life. This time I just couldn't. The pain and tiredness as my body healed itself limited my capacity. Since Ben died, I'm so much better at putting myself first and really being honest about what I'm able to do. I learned that skill as a matter of survival and I appreciate it now as other challenges arise as a normal part of being human.

I feel my capacity returning as my body heals and I rebuild my strength. It seems the wrist will be a long road and I see the specialist next week. I want to share with you all what's been going on besides processing the grief I'm feeling.

I've been working on enhancing my program to build grief resilience in workplaces. You'll see some changes to branding and colours as we move forward and integrate more of that work into my blogs and posts. I've been doing lots of research about the impact of grief in businesses and how businesses can respond better to people who are grieving at work. How we deal with grief at work reflects how we deal with it in society in general. Mostly we hope it will happen quickly and go away quietly and we won't really have to deal with it. We all know that's not really how it works. Grievers are at work and they need our support.

I'll be giving two free workshops in September about grief resilience at work. I'll be sure to share all of the details with you so you can sign up and join in on zoom. And of course I continue to speak on podcasts where I get to have the most fascinating conversations with people from all over the world.

The newsletter will be back. So expect me in your inbox every second Friday. I love to share what I'm experiencing and learning with you all and so I appreciate the feedback I receive.

If you're a griever, please know that your grief will be many layered. If you've lost a loved one there will be other griefs that layer on top of that as you find your way forward. All of them need acknowledgement. And at times that's unspeakably hard. 

If you're a supporter, think about how you can support people with griefs other than the loss of a loved one. Maybe when you expand that view you’ll realize you are grieving as well. Find safe spaces in your life where you could start to talk about grief so that when you are faced with the loss of a loved one it feels less scary.

If you are a business leader, think about how you model grief in your workplace. Do you acknowledge losses other than the loss of a loved one? What happens when you launch a product and it fizzles? What about when you restructure and the people who keep their jobs have survivor's guilt? The feelings everyone is experiencing should be part of your conversations.

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About Suzanne

Suzanne started writing as a way to process and share what was happening with her on her grief journey. She discovered that people wanted to hear and learn from what she was experiencing. She has now become a Certified Grief Educator and is determined to open conversations that will help normalize grief.

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TESTIMONIALS

★★★★★

Suzanne makes this important topic approachable. Her demeanor is so engaging that you cannot help but want to lean in and listen. Her advice and insights are easy, practical, memorable and actionable. In a brief talk, I learned things that I have already put to use with a grieving friend and will change how I approach grief and grieving forever.

Zya Be

Host "Your Hell Yes Life"

★★★★★

My big takeaway from the workshop that I did with you was a practical list of helpful things I can do to help someone who is experiencing grief and my own authentic responses that I can offer in place of the outdated standards that don't serve anyone.  

Karen Cabral

Workshop Participant