Leading Through Grief

On February, 26, 2021 my dad passed away one week before his 69th birthday, due to complication from COVID. It was unexpected, not because he was in good health before COVID, but the doctor had just met with my family six hours earlier and told us that he seemed to be turning a corner and starting to improve. So, we decided to leave the hospital to get cleaned up and try to rest. We get the call just after midnight that we needed to come back as quickly as we could. By the time we made it back dad was already gone. With the ones you love death always feels too soon, but we all thought we had 20 more years with him, instead from the time he went into the hospital to the time God called him home we only had 20 days.

At the time I’m writing this, the one-year mark of dad’s passing was just this past weekend. A lot has happened over this past year and at times leading has been hard and other times it felt impossible. There have been moments where I wanted to run and hide from it all and others, I’ve just felt numb to what was going on around me. Here are three things I’ve learned about leading through grief.

You can’t do it alone.
The temptation was for me to just plow ahead and do it all myself, because if I could do it all myself, I didn’t have to talk to anyone and have them ask me, “how are you doing?” Trying to do it all alone also allowed me to just distract myself from my grief, but this is only temporary. You will always have to face your grief at some point, you can’t escape it. You aren’t built to go it alone in anything, grief, work, life, etc. You were made to ask for help and as a leader that can be hard. What I’ve found to be true over and over this past year is that the people around you want to help and they want to be there for you. So, let them.

It is impossible to hide your feelings.
You may think you are fooling everyone around you, but you aren’t. On the hard days people can tell and that is okay. I’m blessed with an amazing team around me that could tell when I was hurting or missing dad. I was only fooling myself to think they were unaware. It will be better for you and your team if you just communicate clearly if you’re having a rough day or if you need to postpone a meeting or even get out of the office for the afternoon. When you’re honest in those moments your team will give you grace, and it will also build trust for them to be honest with you in the future.

It does get easier.
Deep breath here…the hurt doesn’t go away it is now a part of you, but it does get easier. I need to preface that last statement with one condition and that is, if you process your grief. You must face it and deal with it. I tried to run from it for a while, but that only prolonged the inevitable. Over time you will begin to heal, but it takes time. I don’t write these words as someone who is on the other side yet, I am still wading through the thick muck of grief, but I’m still moving forward. It will be a slow process and it is different for everyone, so give yourself space and grace to go at your own pace. In the beginning even the simplest tasks like responding to emails or leading a one-on-one meeting seemed overwhelming at times, but I kept showing up, wading through the hard parts, and not giving up.

I can’t give answers or insight to what the future looks like, I’m not there yet, but I have faith that God will continue to strengthen me step-by-step…He has brought me this far. So, tomorrow I will show up, do the work, be honest about where I am, and most importantly, continue moving forward.


Adam McCain
General Manager, WCQR
Positive Alternative Radio


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