I’m sharing something that very few people know
First, I want to tell you how grateful I am that you are a part of this community.
I don’t take your time or attention for granted at all, and I work each week to write things that I hope will be meaningful, impactful, and actionable for you in some way.
This week, I’m going to share something with you that I haven’t shared publicly before. You know I always want to be transparent and of service, and I believe we can serve best from our own authenticity and vulnerability.
Yesterday, October 15, was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.
Back in 2010, I suffered a miscarriage. I was in the tenth week of pregnancy, so very, very few people knew I was pregnant, so it didn’t feel right to share that I had miscarried.
My husband and I walked that very lonely, painful road pretty much alone because I didn’t realize that research shows that up to 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I didn’t know who to talk to, and we didn’t want to burden others with our pain, so my husband and I suffered our deep grief virtually alone.
Since that time, when my husband or I hear that someone has endured a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, we are quick to share our story in hopes that we can support someone else from a place of deep empathy and understanding.
But why am I sharing this with you today?
So many times in our organizations, people are suffering, but we don’t know. They put on a stiff upper lip and a smiling face. They grit their teeth and get through their days. But inside, they are crumbling.
With pregnancy loss, especially if the pregnancy hadn’t been shared publicly, women may be forcing themselves through their work and work days, meeting with colleagues and clients, working long hours, while moving through excruciating emotional pain and physical recovery.
But people also walk through other hard, “invisible” challenges. I talk with attorneys and legal professionals all the time who have incredible personal struggles, but they are still trying to act as if everything is “normal” at work.
Caring for aging parents, many times with terminal illnesses or dementia.
Grappling with childrens’ struggles, including mental health issues and suicidality
Dealing with their own “invisible” emotional or physical health challenges
Navigating financial issues or marital struggles
The list goes on and on.
I invite you to remember these things when you are dealing with a client or colleague that seems “off”. Give them a bit of grace and patience. That doesn’t mean to excuse their poor behavior or performance, but remember that there is a human being behind the interaction or the work product, a human being that might be walking a hard road that you don’t even realize.
If you have the chance, maybe ask:
“How are you doing, really?” Or “How are you doing today?” (adding “really” or “today” can be a small prompt to encourage someone to answer more deeply)
“How can I support you?”
“How can our organization support you?”
“What resources do you need?”
“What are you doing to take care of yourself?”
By creating the psychological safety and asking gentle questions that showed you noticed something was a bit “off”, you are part of creating what I call a “Culture of Caring” in your organization and on your team.
If you are struggling, I encourage you to find a mentor, supervisor, HR contact, or someone else that you can open up to and share what’s happening in your life. I find that people very often want to support their colleagues, but they can’t if they don’t know about what someone is facing.
Finally, if you have suffered a pregnancy loss, please know you aren’t alone. There are so, so many of us that have experienced that deep loss. I would never want you to feel alone. Let me know if/how I can support you.
This edition is a little heavier than usual, but the world is heavy right now. You might not be okay. Those around you might not be okay.
Let’s offer support and open ourselves up to receiving support. We will get through this - together.