No one looks forward to experiencing grief. Yet except for those who die very young, grief is a part of life. Whenever we lose someone important to us, or when we experience loss as a nation, or as a planet, grief takes a place on the calendar. After the sad event, we mark our grief on one day every year. For many of us, September Eleventh is one of those days.
Your experience of marking grief can be hurtful to you or helpful to you. Fortunately, you can choose how to mark your grief. Here are some of your choices — three that are helpful, and three that are less so. I'll begin with the less helpful.
- Loss? What loss?
- You can tell yourself it hasn't happened, if you're clever enough to fool yourself. This is a tempting choice, because it promises that you can go on living the life you had before. But beware: Reality eventually intrudes. If you find yourself here, choose again.
- Anger and rage can underlie responses such as the urges for vengeance, suicide, rape, assault, murder, rioting, racism, and war. When these occur, the two parties can become locked in an infinite dance of hurt and pain. And vengeance, even if achieved, rarely dampens the anger. Anger is not your best choice.
- How you mark grief
is a choice. Make
the choice consciously.
- You can reflect — on your loss, on what you had before, on what you have now, and on what you've gained. Reflection builds appreciation for what was, for what is, and for what can be.
- Connecting with others, especially others who've experienced similar loss, gives you access to support through their hearts. And connecting gives you a way to provide support from your heart. Support can be invaluable to us all, especially on days when we mark our grief.
- Loss is painful not only because of the emptiness, but also because of what was lost. Treasure and celebrate what was lost. Celebration can help you find new treasures.
If you lost friends or colleagues on September Eleventh, and if they were carrying out the company's mission at the time, you might feel a special sense of loss. On September Eleventh, give yourself permission to do what you need for yourself, and give others permission to do what they need for themselves.
You or the people you work with might not be able to work on September Eleventh, or you might need to take some time away alone, or time to be with others. On September Eleventh, if you need it, seek support. And if you can, give support. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Believe It or Else
- When we use threats and intimidation to win debates or agreement, we lay a flimsy foundation for future
action. Using fear may win the point, but little more.
- Are You Micromanaging Yourself?
- Feeling distrusted and undervalued, we often attribute the problem to the behavior of others —
to the micromanager who might be mistreating us. We tend not to examine our own contributions to the
difficulty. Are you micromanaging yourself?
- Managing Hindsight Bias Risk
- Performance appraisal practices and project retrospectives both rely on evaluating performance after
outcomes are known. Unfortunately, a well-known bias — hindsight bias — can limit the effectiveness
of many organizational processes, including both performance appraisal and project retrospectives.
- Toxic Conflict at Work
- Preventing toxic conflict is a whole lot better than trying to untangle it once it starts. But to prevent
toxic conflict, we must understand some basics of conflict, and why untangling toxic conflict can be
- Heart with Mind
- We say people have "heart" when they continue to pursue a goal despite obstacles that would
discourage almost everyone. We say that people are stubborn when they continue to pursue a goal that
we regard as unachievable. What are our choices when achieving the goal is difficult?
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 14: Pseudo-Collaborations
- Most workplace collaborations produce results of value. But some collaborations — pseudo-collaborations — are inherently incapable of producing value, due to performance management systems, or lack of authority, or lack of access to information. Available here and by RSS on June 14.
- And on June 21: Asking Burning Questions
- When we suddenly realize that an important question needs answering, directly asking that question in a meeting might not be an effective way to focus the attention of the group. There are risks. Fortunately, there are also ways to manage those risks. Available here and by RSS on June 21.
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