Reflection Friday: Avoiding Unfinished Business

May 26, 2023   |   Julie Diamond

While we specialize in leadership development, today we are unpacking something a bit different—death, grief, and unfinished business. And while it may seem odd, many of the learnings here apply to all relationships, even business ones.  

Death, and therefore grief, is an inevitable part of the circle of life. And yet, even though we know we will lose loved ones over the years, when it actually happens, we are often unprepared and left with thoughts of “I wish I would have…,” “If only…,” “I never got the chance to…”

The truth is grief is tough no matter what—but what makes it even more unbearable is unfinished business. When a loved one dies before unfinished business is handled, it can leave an already grieving person with added suffering that is hard to resolve. Psychologists call it “complicated grief,” and it’s usually related to relationship problems that were never addressed or resolved before the other person died. 

Unfortunately, not all unfinished business can be finished with the other person, and some things are out of our control. But there are some things we can do to prepare for less regret and healthier grieving.


Reflection Questions

To help ensure you aren’t left dealing with complicated grief when someone dies, take some time to ask yourself:

  • First and foremost, is there any unfinished business with someone close to you? If they died tomorrow, what would you wish you would have said or done before it was too late? 
  • If you or the other person were to die, has everything you wanted to say been said? Have you told them how important they are to you, how much you love and appreciate them? 
  • Remember that not every relationship can be exactly what you want it to be. Have you accepted the person fully, including the limitation of them, of yourself, or of the relationship as it stands? Have you forgiven them or forgiven yourself for something? 

It might feel easier in the moment to put it off, thinking you can deal with it later—but life is precious, and we simply never know what tomorrow will hold.

Ultimately, while we’re speaking specifically about death and grief, we find this perspective to also be helpful for all relationships, even business ones. We frequently fail to express things and project that we have plenty of time left to resolve conflict, deepen relationships, or express important truths. Sometimes we might even assume that time itself will make things better. 

But time is finite. And if we take time away, it might just make your relationships better now.