How Do You Measure a Year of Grieve Leave?Dec 17, 2023
How do you measure grief? It's something I've thought about quite a bit— first as a griever exploring my own feelings in my year "off" in 2022, and now here I am again, still weighing this question at the end of my first year as a small business owner in the grief space.
In the medical realm, there are numerical scales and surveys to observe grief in a clinical sense— essentially looking at it from a lens of severity of an illness. But that's not what I'm talking about. I've been pondering how we typically measure our own grief, other people’s grief, and what that means for you and me.
We most often measure grief in the unit of time. We count the years since he died, the months since she moved out, the days since the diagnosis. We count down the weeks until our last day on the job, until she leaves for school, until treatment is over.
Yet, while time may be the closest thing we have to tracking our grief, it's inadequate.
Time doesn't measure the ups and the downs or the sense of scale of our grief. There's no measurement for its magnitude, for the strength of the pressure inside our skulls on those mornings we just don't want to open our eyes or the curtains. There's no way to quantify those moments of joy in our grief, either, like the calming comfort of a song playing on Spotify that reminds us of our person.
No, we can't actually quantify our grief. So, we ask each other, and we ask ourselves, how long has it been? We tick off the days on the calendar. We do the grief math, the morbid number crunching. It's been nearly four years since my dad died. He would be 75 years old now— 76 come February. It's been more than 21 years since my mom died. She would be 74 years old today. And, as of the final draft of this post, I've been legally divorced for 432 days, and nearly 1,000 days since we separated.
The only yardstick we seem to readily use for grief is time…but, if that's the case, then what does that mean for our work at Grieve Leave, as a company? What does it look like create a successful business around something we don’t even really measure?
When I founded my LLC at the beginning of this year, 2023, I wanted to build on and put into action what I had learned in my own year of leave. I set out to create an organization that would help us normalize grief and grieving in all of its forms (death and non-death related losses) just a little bit more. Grieve Leave was founded to create more space for dialogue and education on what grief is, how we experience it, how we can talk about it, and how we can better show up for each other as we all, inevitably, face loss.
In a year, we've grown a lot. Here are a few accomplishments that I'm proudest of:
- Writing stories for TIME, Huffpost, Slate, Fortune
- Running nine Meet & Grieve events, including a grief support workshop for striking actors and writers in Los Angeles
- Being interviewed live for The Morning Show in Australia
- Selling products on GrieveLeave.com that help us see the humor in our grief
- Appearing on eight podcasts, including Caroline Stanbury's “Uncut & Uncensored”
- Interviewing 17 thought leaders and experienced grievers for GrieveLeave.com and Instagram Live
- Reaching over 6 million views worldwide through Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, and GrieveLeave.com
- Giving talks and trainings to organizations and companies, from small cancer nonprofits to major international banks, to build more grief-informed workplaces
However, I think just like any measure related to this fundamentally immeasurable idea of grief, these bullet points are inadequate. They can't measure the stories of the people in our worldwide Grieve Leave community – YOUR stories. Grief is deeply personal, it ebbs and flows, and no two people will connect with the Grieve Leave community in exactly the same way.
The truth is, I am the founder of a business in a unique space. I learn something new about what it's like to run a start up every day, and I learn something new about grief every day. And I also want to take a moment, here, to peel back the curtain, and say that I could not possibly be doing all of this by myself. I want to spotlight Hannah Cranston Media, the incredible firm that supports all things Grieve Leave. I couldn’t do this without Hannah and her brilliant team—Tori, Bea, and so many others.
So, here I am, ending this post with another angle of the same question I began it with: how do you measure how a grief business is doing in its first year? Honestly, y'all, I don't have a great answer – other than checking the calendar.
I've been the Founder & CEO of Grieve Leave for (just about) 365 days. Our grief so often leaves us second guessing ourselves and the decisions we make. For me, that grief fogged my mind over the course of those 365 days with questions like: "Should I really be doing this?" and “Am I doing enough?" I've grown this year to balance my own wellbeing as I learn how to lead alongside my grief. My grief is the roommate I'm getting used to. Are there things I will do differently next year? Yes, absolutely. Are there things I will continue to expand, and new ideas that I will develop? You bet! But I am just so damn happy we're here, one year in.
Someone asked me recently what my plans are now that I've founded my own company, and that goal is "in the rearview mirror." Let me tell you, friends: Grieve Leave is just beginning. It's our time to shine.
P.S. I’m assuming “Seasons of Love” is stuck in your head, by now. You’re welcome.
Grieve on, friends,
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