My husband and I own a consulting firm together, so when we experienced this personal loss, it rippled through our professional lives as well. Many of our clients are also people we consider as friends, and it was wonderful to receive their support through emails, cards, and attendance at Julian’s Celebration of Life.
Our firm publishes a monthly newsletter article, and after some discussion, we decided that the April article would be a case study about how John and I used social media tools to communicate about Julian’s diagnosis, treatment, and death. (You can read my newsletter article on the firm’s website.)
I received an email from a friend and fellow business owner, who asked me, “Can you tell me about your decision to bring your story to your clients in your company newsletter?” I thought about it for a few minutes, then replied to my friend:
There were a few reasons why we decided to share this on the EG site. It kind of started with the “baby wall” in the office kitchen. The photo of Julian was about 2 years old (I’d been meaning to update it forever), so I took it down and had to decide what to do. Leave him off the wall to avoid people asking questions about him? Use a recent photo, and treat him the same as all the other kids? Put up the keepsake photo we passed out at his Celebration, which will draw attention to his story and could make people uncomfortable when we give tours?
Ultimately, John and I together decided to go with the latter… the keepsake photo. We decided, this is part our lives now. If we start “hiding” it, or start making decisions based on other people’s potential discomfort, we’d never be able to stop. And, why should we hide it?
So then, we gave a tour. When we were in my office, one of our clients saw my set of framed photos of the boys and said, “Oh! Are those your kids?” I knew these moments would happen, but this was the first time. “Yep!” I answered, then walked out of the room and took the group quickly through the kitchen, hoping no one would notice the keepsake photo. They didn’t.
So after that day, again we needed to make a decision. Let the topic come up organically? Or just put it out there and get it over with, proactively? Again, we chose the latter. Most of our current clients already know, anyway.
Ultimately, even though John and I are introverts, sharing the story in a personal but appropriate way was more consistent with the EG brand.
After this month, our newsletter will move on to a less personal topic. But for now, anyone who visits the firm’s website is invited to read our story. There really isn’t a line between personal and professional for us, and that’s just fine.
We want to integrate Julian’s memory into as many parts of our lives as we can.
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