How to Keep Your Startup Going During a Personal Tragedy

How to Keep Your Startup Going During a Personal Tragedy

A couple of weeks ago my dad passed away after a long battle with cancer.  I was fortunate enough to be with him during the last week of his life, as well as with the rest of my family while we celebrated him and grieved together.  I found however, that it was very hard to focus on my business during this time, and it’s gotten me wondering how others have kept their businesses going during a personal tragedy.

I am fortunate that my business allows me to work from anywhere, and for that I am truly grateful.  But in the haze of dealing with Dad’s illness, some days it was a challenge to focus enough to log on and take care of emails, let alone think about Marketing or anything else.  Here is what I found during that couple of weeks.


I let my clients and others know what was going on and it was a huge relief.  Everyone was incredibly understanding and kind, but it also took away a lot of my stress just keeping the lines of communication open and letting them know that I hadn’t dropped off the face of the earth, and would check email as much as possible.  The same went for potential client inquiries that I received during that time.  It was so reassuring to hear “Take the time you need – I’ll be here when you are ready.”

My business is just me, but if you are fortunate enough that it’s an option, the obvious thing would be to delegate as much as you can to someone you trust.  If that is not an option for you, my advice would be to make sure you focus on the highest priority tasks, and communicate clearly with clients and others when they can expect you back.

Give Yourself Time

Admittedly, in the midst of all of this, I let a week go by without posting on my blog.  It was the first time I have let a weekly post slide since I started blogging.  I was feeling incredibly guilty about it, until I realized that it was really ok.  The world wasn’t going to end because of one less blog post.  And I also realized that the time I was spending with my dad was much more important.  I kept that in mind whenever I was beating myself up over the next week and a half.  Some days, immediately following his passing, all I could muster the energy to do was sit on my couch in my foggy state and cry while I remembered all of the wonderful things about him.  And that was ok too.  Because while I am still sad, and it’s still a bit of a challenge to get my mind back in “business mode”, I now feel ready to get back to work.  My advice would be to not force yourself to jump back in and “get back to the real world” too soon.  If you’re not feeling ready, it will be a perfunctory effort at best, and that doesn’t benefit you, your clients, or your business.

Have any of you faced having to keep your business going while in the midst of a personal tragedy?  Not necessarily a death in your family, but an illness, divorce, fire, flood or any other event that has a huge impact on your life?  What did you learn from it?  What advice would you give for getting through it without your business falling apart as well?  I would love to hear from you!


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