What to Do When a Family Crisis Affects Your Business 

by Selina Schuh

As business owners, we tend to live and breathe our business. However, sometimes crises hit in other areas of our lives. How we manage our energy and attention in these times can make or break our business. 

Recently, my father, who lives in Europe, was unexpectedly diagnosed with a terminal illness. This meant talking to family and caregivers during my most productive hours, sidelining many of my business projects. In addition, the shock of the impending loss triggered grieving, which caused me to be even less productive.

During the first few days, I struggled to keep up business as usual. After a few days, however, I realized I needed to create change.

Take Time to Assess the Situation

I took time to sit down and look at the scope of the crisis. I knew with my father dying I would be facing two distinct challenges. In the immediate future, this meant dealing with medical staff, alerting friends and family, being present for my grieving mother and, eventually, organizing a funeral. Secondly, it meant that my parents’ home had to be cleared and sold, and my mother moved to a new living situation. 

All of this had to be navigated half a world away and would require me being physically absent from my business. I realized this was not a short-term crisis, but one that would affect several months of my life.

So, as you deal with your particular crisis, allow yourself to take a breath first and survey the situation. Make a list of all the most important tasks that need to get done and try to determine how long this crisis will affect your life.


Once I had created my list, I realized there were many tasks that I was able to continue. However, some of the work, such as writing blogs, was impossible for me to keep up in my current state of mind. Luckily, I had several people in my close network who are familiar with my writing style and content. They were more than happy to help out. 

Most of us, as we build our business, also build vast networks of qualified professionals. Look at the work you need to delegate and then reach out to the people you know.

Reduce Your Expectations of Productivity

In the beginning, I felt incredibly stressed about how I was going to get everything done. Then I realized that not everything had to get done. I postponed and cancelled many meetings. I chose one or two main tasks per day and felt good if I was able to accomplish them. Once I let go of my expectation and acknowledged that this was indeed a crisis, I was able to relax. As a result, I actually got more done than I expected.

Practice Self-Care

In times of crisis, we are often pushed past our emotional limits. The only way to navigate such situations with some grace is to allow ourselves time to get enough sleep. Eating well certainly helps; however, many crises take us out of our normal routine, and trying to keep up a healthy diet may just increase our sense of stress. Rest is often the one component we can control. 

If your crisis extends over a long period of time, make sure you include exercise in your daily routine. This doesn’t mean you need to be at the gym every day. I merely went for a walk each day. I did it first thing, so I would not miss it if the day took an unexpected turn. This allowed me to let go of some of my stress and to mentally make a plan for the day.

Crises are not the norm. They are temporary situations. As business owners, we often feel we should be productive 24/7. When we are able to understand crises as something out of the ordinary, and honor them with the time and attention they deserve, we are more likely to be present to the deep lessons these events hold for us and to navigate them more successfully.

Selina Schuh is an educator, author, speaker and owner of Empowered Living Strategies. She teaches women who are feeling frustrated and under-appreciated in their relationships step-by-step skills to create deeply connected relationships. To view her library of free resources, visit empoweredls.com/free-resources.

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