Business Entrepreneurship

Grieving, Loss and Running a Business: Virtual Umbrella Founder Samantha Kingston Tells Her Story

As part of a series looking into the under-discussed side of founding a company, Forbes speaks with the founder of Virtual Umbrella, Samantha Kingston, about building a business while going through grief. For more Founder Therapy, click here.

For Samantha Kingston, it turned out that two days was the amount of time it took for her life to be turned upside down.

A late night call from family, a flight home to Scotland and a rushed taxi to the hospital bought ten minutes of conversation with her mother, before she was taken off oxygen. After twenty further hours by her bedside, Kingston was left with missed calls from clients, a family reeling from shock and a booklet entitled What to do after a death in Scotland…practical advice for times of bereavement.

“I was 100% not ready for that.”

What followed was an unwelcome life lesson in grieving while running a business: an odd cocktail of the surreal and the familiar.

“You’re not speaking. You’re not eating. Your brain isn’t functioning properly. You get annoyed for no reason. And then you laugh at stupid things and you say silly things and then at the back of my mind, I was still getting phone calls from clients.”

Grieving takes time: a commodity that is in short supply when growing a business. With practical considerations such as funeral planning, it was important for others to pick up the slack. For example, while Kingston was meeting funeral directors in Scotland, her business partner Bertie Millis tried to create the space she needed.


This article originally appeared on Forbes