As the baby boomer generation ages, you may find yourself frequently dealing with sick, dying, or grieving clients, many of whom have worked with you for years or even decades. An advisor told me that one evening he felt empty and sad as he sat and looked at the picture of yet another cherished client who died. Of course, if you’ve had Corgenius training, you’ve gained a wealth of skills to help you support the families and offer genuine comfort. But how do you care for yourself in your grief?
Here are a few strategies for self-care that I recommend:
- Develop a network of people - perhaps including other advisors, family, friends, a therapist - with whom you can talk about your experience of client losses.
- Begin journaling. The pages of the journal are a confidential and unconditionally accepting way to help process emotions about your clients (and anything else you’re struggling with). You may wish to compose a letter of appreciation to the client, and then do what seems right and healing for you - i.e. give it to the surviving spouse OR bury it at the gravesite OR keep it in your private journal OR share it with your staff OR burn it and bury the ashes in a garden so they give life, etc.
- Rely on your own spiritual practices - i.e. prayer, scripture, meditation, chanting - and breathe your grief out into that entity, deity, or force that is larger than yourself.
- Engage in activities that you find comforting - i.e. walk or bike in nature, listen to music or play it yourself, sing out loud, cook or bake, soak in a hot tub, enjoy a cup of tea, use aromatherapy - whatever practices bring you and your body comfort and refreshment.
- Breathe deeply, all the way down into your belly, and then slowly, consciously, and completely blow it out. Repeat three times.
- Let go of judging yourself or your feelings. Just accept and allow whatever arises, as if your thoughts and feelings are a flowing river, and you are sitting on the riverbank simply watching them pass by. Be patient and kind with yourself.
- Be consciously grateful. Appreciate what and who you have right now, knowing that all of life is temporary. Each day, make a list of at least three things for which you are grateful, plus at least one thing you did that day to make someone else smile. Read that list out loud to yourself every evening.
There are more self-care techniques, but these are a good start. Honor the fact that grief arises only because you care so much. Tend to your own healing so you can be there for others. Know that we are here with resources to help.