Good Grief: Not Business as Usual

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Pam Turos

Pam Turos

Pam Turos | Managing Editor

One month ago, when we sent out the very first issue of The Good News newsletter, I had no idea that I would soon be sharing my “bedroom office” with a ten-year-old while keeping teenagers from fighting over bread and helping my clients manage crisis communications.

One thing that hasn’t changed in that time is that Good Cause Creative is committed to focusing our energy on simple habits that make a big difference. As a former hospital social worker, I received my training in crisis communications at the bedside, delivering tragic news to patients and families and providing calm reassurance during life and death situations. Sometimes, I sat there and said nothing at all. Just being there was enough to lessen the weight of someone’s suffering. Now, these same skills are serving me well as my family, friends, team members, and clients face tremendous fear and uncertainty.

Recently, during Governor Mike DeWine’s daily COVID-19 update, the amazing Dr. Amy Acton mentioned Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s 5 Stages of Grief as a framework for understanding our individual and collective reactions to the pandemic. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What we don’t hear often enough is that grief (and our reaction to a crisis) is not a linear process with a clear beginning and end, as much as we’d like it to be. We don’t get to start at the beginning and gradually work our way through the stages until we’re all done and coping perfectly. If we are lucky, we work through the stages and develop a “new normal,” but life is never exactly the same.

Sometimes, you can get stuck in one stage, or you might go back and forth between stages for a while. This is called “complicated grief,” and many of us are experiencing it right now. In addition, everyone experiences these stages in a different order and intensity. Some people cope through productivity, like the father who obsessively maintained his lawn while his wife sat and cried at the kitchen table after their daughter died. As a bereavement social worker, I had the job of helping them understand that both reactions were normal.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will have to make allowances for bad days. There is not going to be anything like “business as usual” for a long time, no matter how productive our access to technology encourages us to be.

Last week, I wrote a blog post explaining why clarity and brevity are so important in the way we communicate right now. The same should be true for our goal setting efforts. I hope you will join me in resisting the urge to try to plan our way out of this. We don’t even know yet what we are planning for. Now is a time to step back and prioritize what’s important, let yourself and your team react in authentic ways, and move forward only when your “next right thing” is clear.

My social work license may have expired, but my listening skills are still sharp. So if you’d like to talk about crisis communication and critical incident stress debriefing or the stages of grief, I’m your girl.

Click here to schedule a call.

As always, thanks for being a part of what’s good in my world.

Pam

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