Episode 47: How I Led My School While Dealing With Grief

Episode 47 Show Notes


I am not an expert on grief.

I am not a therapist.

Everyone experiences grief and loss differently

I am NOT going to tell you how YOU should lead your school while dealing with loss.

I am going to share my experience.

From May 2017 to September 2021, three sisters died, my father in law and my father died.

I hope that sharing my story will help you if you need to still show up every day and lead at school while dealing with grief and loss.


1 Take the time that you need

  • We rarely take time off
  • Badge of honor


  • I figured out that the bereavement days were not just for the funeral
  • To be sad and to be with family and to be away from work


  • Being away from work is hard. “Everything will fall apart”
  • Some of that might be true, but some of it is pride and some of it is a lack of confidence in our team


  • Bereavement time is a benefit that you have earned.
  • Take the time that you need

2 Be a human being with your team

  • Just be real
  • At first, “everything is fine”. I’m fine. I’m a robot. They need to see how tough I am. They need to see how strong I am.
  • It is OK to be sad at work
  • I decided to be a human being with my team
  • My teachers, my boss, the other members of the leadership team were EXTREMELY kind and gracious
  • People want to be led by a human being. Never felt 


3 Talk to someone

  • Employee Assistance Program EAP
  • Virginia
  • Best thing I could do for myself, my family, my teachers
  • Not a display of weakness
  • They are professionals CAR MECHANIC, HVAC TECHNICIAN. You are more important

4 Schedule what makes you happy

  • More time with the kids
  • Recess, Lunch
  • Schedule it, good intentions I NEED TO GET CAUGHT UP
  • When I came back in February 2019. The 8th graders, breakfast, roses, brick paver with Marcia’s name on it.
  • People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
  • What makes you happy outside of school? Walk, read a book, spend time outside YOU NEED IT MORE


5 Expect the unexpected triggers

  • Father in law, late June
  • Labor day weekend, college football
  • Song, holiday event at school, anything
  • Just let it in, sit with it, feel it
  • Be sad


6 Lean on your faith and family

  • I am a person of faith and so I really leaned on God during those times
  • You might not be a person of faith, you might not believe in God
  • Lean on your friends and family
  • Say “yes” when they offer a meal
  • Accept the love that they want to give


CLICK HERE for article on coping with grief from National Institutes of Health


CLICK HERE for "7 Steps For Managing Grief And Loss" from the Mayo Clinic


CLICK HERE for "Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one" by the American Psychological Association


Call to Action


  • Life is hard. We have VERY demanding jobs. RELENTLESS
  • If you need to take a day off to be sad. Take a day off to be sad.


I want to say thank you for listening to the podcast by giving you a FREE GIFT. It is called The 7 Steps To Having Successful Meetings With Upset Parents. This guide is an 11 page pdf that gives you a step by step plan to have better meetings with the parents at your school. Every good coach has a game plan. Every good teacher has a lesson plan. Too many private school leaders don’t have a plan when they sit down to meet with an upset parent. Well, now you have a PLAN! 


I’ve created a free resource for you called “The 6 Things That Every Private School Teacher Wants From Their Leader”. This guide is a 6 page pdf that will be a game changer for you. I guarantee you that if you do these 6 things, the teachers at your school will be happy to follow you. CLICK HERE to get the guide!


I want to give you a gift to say “thank you” for listening to the podcast. I have created a FREE guide for you called “5 Strategies To Help You Work With Difficult Parents”. We know that working with parents is part of the job and most of our parents are great, but some of them can be very demanding and emotional and difficult. This guide will give you the tools that you need to build better relationships and have better meetings with the difficult parents at your school. CLICK HERE to grab the guide. Thank you again for listening every week!


If you implement any of these strategies at your school, I would love to hear from you! Send me a quick note at [email protected] and tell me about it. I can answer your questions and I’m also good at giving pep talks when you get stuck!


If you have gotten value from listening to the podcast, I would love to work with you 1-on-1. I would love to take my experience and help you to feel less overwhelmed and frustrated or help you have success if you are a brand new leader. I also work with private school leaders who are aspiring Heads of School and want to accelerate their leadership growth or experienced leaders that are moving on to a new school and they want to get off to a great start. If I’m describing you, then CLICK HERE to learn more about working with me 1-on-1.


CLICK HERE for a bunch of free resources, including Plug & Play PD's (video webinars with guided notes) for you to use with your teachers, Top Lists of Leadership Books, Productivity Books, TED Talks and much more!


Please follow, rate and review this podcast. The rating helps this podcast to be heard by more leaders and your review gives me valuable feedback so that I can better serve you in future episodes. If you got value from this episode, please text the link to an aspiring leader at your school. Thanks!


Music by Twisterium from Pixabay