How Grief Saved My Life

This was a difficult week. My household and my wife’s family were struck with grief. Her favorite Uncle died. We were all shocked; it was so sudden; nobody was expecting it.

It was hard for my wife to play in her business this week. She forced herself to show up, but things got messy. When she was teaching, her emotions went haywire. She couldn’t keep it together and became awkward in front of her clients. When she was isolated working on her business, her minded wandered from her work, and she had often bouts of depression.

When grief strikes, the best thing you can do for your business is not show up. It’s a time for you to recoil and go inward with your grief. Let it all hang out, when in a safe place. Become intimate with your grief and really dive into those uncomfortable feelings.

Unfortunately, we often avoid those uncomfortable feelings. We think there isn’t time for grief because we need to make money and make our business work. Life is not all about your work and your business. Your business has a heart of its own and it will be okay while you take time to grieve, to be sad, to be tired.

Many times my wife wanted to block the grief and disassociate from it, but she didn’t, and “sat” with it. There were times when she felt the need to focus on clients and money, but she didn’t, and “sat” with her grief. I love her for that because she really respected and honored her Uncle, life, and death. Her whole body and mind was immersed with what is. And when you do that, you don’t have regrets in life. Instead, you live fully as a human being.

You know what, her business is just fine, too. It didn’t fall apart because her foundation is good.

Grief struck me in a different way. I was sad to lose this person in my life. I really admired how he showed up to family functions with his whole body and mind here and now. It brought great joy to those situations. But his sudden death awakened me to something. I realized I’m missing life.

This past month I pushed hard in my business. Most days were 12-hour workdays trying to launch Roots, teach clients, and attend events. When those things were done, my mind was lost in my business. I would cook dinner, but not really–I was thinking about my podcast. My wife and I would snuggle, but not really because I was thinking about my brand name. I would go for a run, but again, not really because I was thinking about marketing.

My whole life passed me by and sudden grief shook me awake. I couldn’t stop thinking that could have been my wife. Who knows when it will happen. How much longer does she have? Almost every night I see her face in the casket. It’s scary; those thoughts torture me. What do you do?

You live right now.

There’s no escaping death, but you opt out of life when you’re lost in thought. This grief saved my life. I’m blessed to see that real living is here and now–in giving your whole body, mind, and heart to who you are with and to what you are doing. You don’t miss life when you do that; and you don’t have any regrets either.

Time doesn’t stop for us. We have to be intentional with how to invest in the time we have, but more importantly we have to be here and now with the time that is given. Last night while laying in bed I held my wife tight and immersed my whole self into the comfort and love. This morning I poured coffee to pour coffee. Fifteen minutes ago I spoke with my wife with a full heart and my full mind. This is all you can do; it’s the real way to live.

How can you appreciate your life right now? How can you be fully present and available with your loved ones? With your business?

I’m sure I’ll slip up and lose myself in thought, but I know what it’s like to live wholeheartedly. I know the value of grief when you allow it to take its course. I know where to come back to when lost.

My Zen teacher passed along a beautiful mantra that is recited every morning at 6:30 AM and every night at 6:30 PM in the monasteries. It’s a reminder about the treasure of life. I now recite it every morning before I start my day. You are welcomed to use it.

The Question of Birth and Death is great;
How swift is impermanence!
Every moment is to be cherished.
Time waits for no one.

Much love to you,
Nick Pfennigwerth

P.S. Not an easy transition here, but I want you to watch this short video. It’s about the launch of my small group training program called Roots: How to build a foundation for plenty of clients and money. I’m almost ready to open the doors. If you watch the video and sign up to be notified, you’ll get some education and a notice about joining the program. You can watch it here => Roots.

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