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:
- Email Happens
- Email is a wonderful medium for some communications, and extremely dangerous for others. What are its
limitations? How can we use email safely?
- Those Across-the-Board Cuts That Aren't
- One widespread feature of organizational life is the announcement of across-the-board cuts. Although
they're announced, they're rarely "across-the-board." What's behind this pattern? How can
we change it to a more effective, truthful pattern?
- Responding to Threats: I
- Threats are one form of communication common to many organizational cultures, especially as pressure
mounts. Understanding the varieties of threats can be helpful in determining a response that fits for you.
- Not Really Part of the Team: II
- When some team members hang back, declining to show initiative, we tend to overlook the possibility
that their behavior is a response to something happening within or around the team. Too often we hold
responsible the person who's hanging back. What other explanations are possible?
- Unanswerable Questions
- Some questions are beyond our power to answer, but many of us try anyway. What are some of these unanswerable
questions and how can we respond?
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 13: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: I
- To take the risks that learning and practicing new ways require, we all need a sense that trial-and-error approaches are safe. Organizations seeking to improve processes would do well to begin by assessing their level of psychological safety. Available here and by RSS on December 13.
- And on December 20: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: II
- When we begin using new tools or processes, we make mistakes. Practice is the cure, but practice can be scary if the grace period for early mistakes is too short. For teams adopting new methods, psychological safety is a fundamental component of success. Available here and by RSS on December 20.
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