How my small business helped me through loss
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and October 15th is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In honour of this, I am sharing a little bit about how running a small business helped me through one of the hardest seasons of our lives, after we became members of a heartbreaking group of mothers and fathers grieving the loss of a baby.
Just over a year ago on September 6, 2018, I went into early labour at 23 weeks gestation. On this day, my husband and I welcomed into the world our son, Holland, who stayed with us for only 20 minutes before passing on.
In the days and weeks that followed, my husband returned to work, my daughter continued on at daycare, and I was left at home, not yet in a mental (or physical) place that I could return to work, but also ready to do more with my days than shop online while watching Gilmore Girls.
It's really hard to explain how those days and weeks felt. As far as work went, I didn't know if there would ever be a time where I would be able to make it through my 2 hour commute to return to my regular job. Being alone with my thoughts was one of the hardest things, and I found that this feeling was intensified when I was driving by myself (or when I didn't have the distraction of Gilmore Girls playing in the background).
So about 3-4 weeks after losing our son, I made the decision to take some time and officially go on mat leave (in Canada, if you lose a child after a certain time, you are able to take up to 17 weeks of mat leave).
And in this time, the orders for Sweet Green Studios didn't stop. Just as I had to get up for my daughter every day, I had to get up for SGS.
Business is business, after all.
But one thing that really surprised me was how much I found I needed it. Because while I wasn't ready to get back into to a full time day job with a commute, I was ready to do something more with my days. The joy of being your own boss, is that you can work as long as you feel like you're able to, and stop when you need a break.
And if there's one thing I know about grief, it's that it's full of very intense moments of emotions that hit you out of the blue - like a crazy wave when you didn't even realize you were standing close to water.
So slowly, I would start with an hour here, two hours there, and work up to more and more time putting into this little Passion Project of ours. It also gave me something to do with my family when they came up to visit. Instead of sitting there looking at each other, we were able to busy ourselves with tasks, chatting as we went.
This small business helped me move through the intense periods of grief and sadness, and allowed me to slowly ease back into the routine of 'work.' It was the bridge I needed to be able to return to my day job (albeit not the one I had originally taken a leave from). Without this transition period, I can't imagine how hard it would have been to go back.
I appreciate what this business gave me at a time in my life when I needed it most. The funny thing about having a business built out of a hobby, is that I actually really enjoy the work that I do. I love the therapeutic repetition of the tasks, how nice it is to spend time with my husband & family when we work together, and how I can drop everything to be with my daughter (or have an emotional moment), and then pick up where I left off to still meet my deadlines.
I feel lucky every day that we have Sweet Green Studios in our lives and the community of makers and small business owners that has come along with it. Our lives wouldn't be the same without the regular hustle, and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.