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:
- Decision-Making and the Straw Man
- In project work, we often make decisions with incomplete information. Sometimes we narrow the options
to a few, examine their strengths and risks, and make a choice. In our deliberations, some advocates
use a technique called the Straw Man fallacy. It threatens the soundness of the decision, and its use
is very common.
- Handling Heat: I
- Heated exchanges in meetings are expensive to both the organizational mission and to the careers of
the meeting's participants. Preventing them — or dealing with them when they happen — is
everyone's job. But what can you do when they persist?
- The Restructuring-Fear Cycle: I
- When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, spin off, relocate, lay off, or make
other adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Often ignored is the fear these changes create
in the minds of employees. Sadly, that fear can lead to the need for further restructuring.
- The Restructuring-Fear Cycle: II
- When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, lay off, or make other organizational
adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Here's Part II of an exploration of how the fear
induced by these changes can lead to the need for further restructuring.
- Solving the Problem of Solving Problems
- Problem solving is sometimes difficult when our biases interfere with generating candidate solutions,
or with evaluating candidates we already have. Here are some suggestions for dealing with these biases.
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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