The pain and grief of losing a business is not only a significant loss of income but can also send your entire identity into turmoil.
This is the belief of Pretoria-based bereavement expert Dr Nelia Drenth.
Think about it, for years you struggled, you took all the risks, you poured your heart and your soul to give birth to your dream business never anticipating the relentless destruction of Covid-19 on global economies and livelihoods.
Like losing a loved one, the pain of losing a business is complicated in the global pandemic.
“We are dealing with the secondary loss that is now having a very big impact.
“If you are losing business, it is not only your livelihood at risk it is also your employees that work with you, the people who are dependent on you for their income so that they can look after their families.”
Mental health is the stepchild of health
Mental health has been treated as a peripheral and insignificant part of the health sector, adds Drenth.
“Mental health is the stepchild of health in the country. We do not have enough psychiatrists; we do not have enough social workers who can be deployed to rural areas; and mostly these are not resources that the average man can afford.”
Sharing her perspective as a mental health practitioner, Drenth warns, “The financial loss coupled with the huge strain the pandemic has put on people’s lives, we will see an increase in suicides.”
Working through your grief can be a painful process, but it is necessary to ensure your future emotional and physical well-being, she advises.
“It all depends from person to person. Some people are able to thrive and start again and pick themselves up, and others just lie under the duvet and don’t know how to get out.”
The discomfort is grief
Grief is a normal and personal process, Drenth emphasises. Intense emotional pain is not uncommon and supports rather than restricts healing.
“It is hard going through all those manifestations of grief. It not only impacts you emotionally, but it also impacts on you physically. The headaches, the knot in your throat, it impacts on your spirituality, your behaviour, you are angry, your head is muddled with questions like ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’.
“You are sad, just sitting under the duvet, you don’t care anymore and have given up on hope. It impacts your whole being.”
While we cannot run away from the fact that the pandemic has devastating effects, in every adversity there is an opportunity, says Drenth.
“The pandemic gives an opportunity to look for new ways of doing things. It takes us out of our comfort zone, which is uncomfortable, but it also forces us to think out of the box ‘how can I think differently? What are the new avenues I can explore?’.
“It is okay to sit for a while but then we must get up. All it takes is one little step.”
Here are more tips to manage grief by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG):
Get Support: Support from others is important in the healing process. Express your feelings with people you trust when you’re grieving. Accept support; don’t try to grieve alone no matter how strong and self-sufficient you are.
Take care of yourself: The stress of a loss can deplete your energy and emotional reserves very quickly. Look after your physical and emotional needs.
Face your feelings: Healing means facing your feelings and acknowledging your pain. Unresolved grief can also lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
Express your feelings: In whatever way makes sense for you, express your feelings. Keeping your pain bottled up does not help you heal.
Plan ahead for the “empty chair”: For milestones and anniversaries, be prepared for an emotional thump, and know that it’s completely normal.