5 Ways to Make it Through Work While Dealing with Personal Tragedy

This time last year things were not going well for me. I was all geared up and excited for a New Year when I woke up on January 2nd sick. As the day progressed it became obvious I wasn't just sick. A few weeks later I discovered I had a pretty serious infection.

That evening, I received a text. The type that you hope you never get. Something unthinkable had happened. 

In the ensuing weeks it went from bad to worse. To say I was grieving, overwhelmed, wallowing even, is spot on. There were days I was "fine" and days where I could not even leave my house. I barely had any energy, the inherent motivation and fire inside me was gone.

People who think they can keep their personal and professional lives completely separate are naive. When something big goes wrong in your life it will have an impact on your professional goals. So the question doesn't need to be how to keep it separate, but how to contain, mitigate, and make it as easy and impact-free to your professional life as possible. So you can do what you need to move through it.

5 Ways to Make it Through Work While Dealing with Personal Tragedy

1) Come clean to those close to you. Let your boss, partner, and close team members know what is going on. Tell them you are expecting that you will have difficulty in the coming weeks and months and ask them for ideas on how to ensure it doesn't impact the company. Responsibilities can be shifted, and usually people will very gladly help.

2) Clear your schedule in the coming weeks and months of obligations that you don't 100% have to do. Did you just take on a volunteer role, a board seat, or a new side project? This is the time to gracefully back out. These things happen, and it's better to back out now, than to try to stick with it and drop the ball later. You will need the extra time. The exception to this is anything that truly nurtures and feeds your soul.

3) Autopilot your life and routine as much as you can. Small tasks can have a compounding affect during this time. A side effect of grief is forgetfulness. It can be almost amnesia-like. Stick to a routine, and automate as much as possible.  Automate your bills, consider having your groceries delivered to your home, or scheduling a house cleaner for a while. 

4) Give yourself a lot of space to deal with things. There will be days that you have to be on your game, but give yourself an out. If you have a long day packed with meetings, keep your evening open so you can go home and decompress.

5) Create rituals for comfort. For me, it was quiet evenings at home with essential oil in a diffuser (there are some good ones that help a lot for grief). I also took to journaling more. Sometimes I'd meet friends who had experienced similar things and talking with them about their experiences helped me a lot.

Keeping these items in mind will help you be present and able to perform your job duties when you need to. Regardless, the personal issue will have an impact. So the more you can create systems and structures the better. I wrote a post earlier in the year that can also help you streamline your work life during tough times (or anytime really). Check it out here: How to Get More Done Every Week.

Have you experienced anything like this in your life? What is your best advice for others on dealing with it and keeping it from having to much impact on your professional goals? Share your best tips and advice in the comments section below.