Leading Through Grief and Crisis

two women sitting at table talking

How to Respond to Elevated Stress

Tragedy happens, even during a year of unusual stress. While the Pandemic rages, businesses “pause” and we get ready for a new President, loved ones still die as they do in any year. This year, however, those tragic losses are more difficult because of the unusual stress of this year.

The Critical Incident Stress Management model, developed by Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell, (cism.org), is a standard process used by mental health professions to help their clients deal with and work through times of great stress and grief. I learned of this model from one of our MFI team members, Manon Dulude. Manon is a Professional Certified Coach, PCC, and Ph.D. in human development and coaching. When 911 hit or an airplane crashed, agencies from the US and Canadian governments called upon Manon to work with survivors. She followed the CISM process.

Here is a highlight of questions that might be useful for leaders when helping themselves or others through crisis or times of grief:

  1. How and when did you hear the news?
  2. What was your first reaction?
  3. How did it impact you?
  4. Aside from changing the event (bringing back a person who died, for example), what is one thing you’d like to change about this situation?
  5. How has this affected you mentally and physically?
  6. How could you regain a sense of control over your life?

Working through grief and loss does not take a linear path. While Elizabeth Kubler-Ross made famous the “five stages of grief” (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), one does not pass through these stages in sequence. They may take two steps forward, then one step back, then one step ahead, etc., before arriving at acceptance.

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“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”

S. Kelley Harrell