Committed to Working through the Pain

Our lives are journeys, full of ups and downs. Our natural inclination, as human beings, is to only want the ups and the highs that bring us joy, happiness, and meaningful connections. 

Oh, if this could only be true.

The reality is that there are ultimately going to be many downs in one’s life—this is unavoidable. Moreover, these downs are often accompanied by great pain and grief. Difficult times often come with little notice, and in the blink of an eye our lives can be turned upside down.

However, life, work, and responsibilities still go on despite our pain and desire to withdraw and heal. Remember, few of us are in the financial position to take time off or simply shut down and not get back to business. We must get up the next day, and prepare ourselves to face the world, as if everything is good and alright. Even when it’s not.

So how do you cope? How does one continue on and complete work? How can a grieving leader motivate their team if they themselves are feeling unmotivated? How can a person feel like they are able to be in charge if their heart is heavy as a brick, their stomach feels ill and tied in knots, and their mind is spinning out of control with what if’s, how comes, and if only’s?

This is the struggle that each of us face when going through a life-altering change—and what the C-suite needs to recognize, support, and assist with when dealing with grieving company leaders. At least if they want these people to remain productive and retain them. These loyal employees need support to manage the grieving process and assistance even after they have completed this life-altering journey, which takes much longer than most people recognize.

Therapists, grief counselors, and other EAP programs are some of the beginning pieces that can be implemented when looking to help grieving leaders and employees cope. However, what should be done if they are not requested or sought after? The fear of appearing weak is prevalent in the higher levels of the workplace. These are leaders after all. How would it look if the people in charge needed to sit with counselors? Even though data shows the positive effects of these programs, there is a resistance to utilize them in their entirety.

This is where a business coach who also understands the emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual processes that accompany life-altering change can be of service. A coach who recognizes that the value of being productive is key to the well-being of the employee, and not just the company’s bottom line, can be an asset. Ultimately, a coach who can recognize the symptoms of grief and stress, and implement a plan to balance strategies to relieve the pressure, lessen the impact, and allow healing to continue can be a boon to a business. And it can help employees cope, heal, and be able to move on with the issues that will not only impact their personal life, but also their professional life.

Can you imagine the benefits of such a program—one that is individually tailored to your company and your employee? You might also be wondering just how this applies to you. Maybe you don’t have any employees who have suffered a loss nor do you have any who are grieving over a loved one’s death. That doesn’t mean that someone isn’t facing a life-altering event. Grief, worry, and sadness come in many forms.

And since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want you to consider some startling facts. I can probably tell you with certainty that someone at your company has been or is probably affected by this growing epidemic in our country.

In the United States*:
● Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women after skin cancer.
● 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2015.
● 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
● 2,350 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men. 
● 440 men will die from breast cancer. 
● The five-year relative survival rate for female invasive breast cancer patients has improved from 75 percent in the mid-1970s to 90 percent today. 
● The five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with localized breast cancer (cancer that hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or outside the breast) is 98.5 percent. In cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes (regional stage) or to distant lymph nodes or organs (distant stage), the survival rate falls to 84 percent or 24 percent, respectively.
● There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.

Conveying this information, I want you to realize that when a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is not only the individual who is affected—but also the family, friends, and loved ones of that person. Intense worry, sadness, and paralyzing fear have the capability of impacting the patient and the people around them. In light of this, these people are still expected to carry on with their daily lives—go to work, school, manage a household, take care of the “stuff” that simply has to get done. All of this—while also battling a disease and trying to keep a healthy mental outlook that something positive lies just around the corner.

Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it?

However, when a business support strategy is in place to help the individual facing the disease or to assist a family member who might work for your company, compassionate understanding can be achieved—and the realization that the person doesn’t have to manage an “all or nothing” professional environment can also spur progress, inspire added loyalty to the organization, and ensure the individual understands that a safety net and support network is there for them as they face one of the most trying times in their life or in the life of the person they care about.

BLT Strategies provides this service—and we can customize a solution that fits your needs, your company’s culture, and addresses the values that you and the people who are key to your organization hold dear. For more information about creating a custom program for your organization or for assistance on how to help one of your company’s leaders find their footing during a difficult time in their life, visit today.

Mary Ellen Wasielewski