We’ve all experienced loss at one point or another. As Deloitte’s Human Sustainability Leader, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to so many individuals who have so much to give, but are struggling to show up as their best selves because of a loss they’re going through. Loss can come in so many forms. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of dreams — all warrant time to reflect and grieve. And when we don’t hold space for ourselves to lean into our grief, we can experience burnout, which drains us of our energy, passion, and drive.
I sat down with Rebecca Soffer, the cofounder of Modern Loss, which offers meaningful and encouraging content addressing the long arc of grief. She is also the author of the bestselling book The Modern Loss Handbook: An Interactive Guide to Moving Through Grief and Building Your Resilience and a globally-renowned speaker on the themes of loss, resilience, and empathy.
“We all need a release valve,” Rebecca told me. “When we use it, we free up all of the energy it took to keep that stuff inside and can use it to figure out what we need to take care of ourselves, then go make it happen.” Rebecca shared the importance of opening up about what we’re going through. When we’re struggling with loss, finding solace in conversation and community can help us build resilience. Our conversation completely shifted my mindset around grief, and I’m eager to share the lessons I took away from it.
Here’s what Rebecca had to say about loss and resilience:
Loss is an individual experience, but it doesn’t have to be an isolating one.
Talking about our grief can feel scary, but community is what people need in times of loss. And when you’re willing to start sharing parts of your story to certain people in ways that are raw and vulnerable, you’ll create new connections and sources of support and likely deepen the ones you already have. People are looking for an invitation to talk about their hard things. This is a bit tough love-y, but it’s up to us, the people dealing with those things, to start sharing about them.
Grief isn’t only about death.
Grief is the natural reaction to loss, and loss can come in endless forms. If it feels like grief to you, it is. It can be losing a job or an unexpected career shift, the end of an intimate or platonic relationship, an illness or a sudden caretaking role that leaves you with little time for anything else. It can be the loss of a dream you had for the future. It can even show up as the result of losing our go-to coping mechanisms, which happened so frequently during the pandemic when we could no longer easily see people in person. If it feels like you’re struggling with a really hard thing, then it’s worth respecting and examining.
Humor can play a role in your grieving process.
Life is messy and ridiculous, and so there’s an enormous amount of humor within its ludicrous aspects. Grief is a life experience on utter steroids. It has no roadmap, no timeline, no respect for our need to not be flattened by it at 2:00 p.m. in the middle of your workday. Sharing darkly humorous anecdotes with each other can be a mental exhale and an enormous emotional lifeline. A lot of us who’ve lost people have stories about funerals, or holidays, or a parent starting to date again, or weird stuff that we found in our people’s closets when cleaning them out. And when we allow ourselves to talk about and connect over them, it helps us to realize yet again that as different as the details of our particular stories might be, the themes are similar: It’s nice to know you aren’t the only person going through a completely crazy experience.
There’s power in showing up for the people around us.
We’re living through times of deep grief. Between climate grief, the long tail of a global pandemic, political and societal divisiveness, and horrible violence and wars, it can be overwhelming. We’re also dealing with a lot of loneliness. It’s hard to feel like we can hold space for other people in our lives when we’re just trying to keep our own heads above water. But the good news is, it doesn’t take much to make someone else feel like you’re supporting them. Consider taking ten minutes to update your calendar with dates that some of your friends and family may struggle with, and remind yourself to send a simple check-in as that date approaches. You don’t have to solve the world’s grief, but you do hold the power to show up for one person. All people want is to feel like others are aware that what they’re going through is hard — and there’s power in recognizing that.