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Topics: Change Management, Leadership
What if you are heartbroken?
In the last few weeks, a family member passed away and a friend's 8 year old daughter tragically died. I've continued to work and do my job, but my heart is broken. I don't think it has been obvious to anyone at work - the projects are on track and I've been able to talk about these deaths with special people in my life. I also have a very strong spiritual beliefs, but I am still so very sad especially for the family who lost their only child. Have you ever been heartbroken while doing your job? How do you cope?
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Lori,
Sorry for your losses.

I would say find people you can talk about your sadness in your private life or close work relation. It needs time, but don't bury it.
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2 replies by LORI WILSON and Randi Krueger
Jan 09, 2020 3:32 PM
Randi Krueger
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100% agree here - do NOT bury it.
Jan 09, 2020 5:59 PM
LORI WILSON
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Thank you, Vincent. Reaching out today was one way to not bury it. I am enormously grateful to all who have been responding today. This is a place where we can all support one another, and I appreciate this support so much.
Lot of times Lori, believe me. In fact, because my personal experiences, I start researching on this matter in 1986 and I have published articles due to this type of things are related to other things I am researching too (consciousness, quantum mechanics, physics and human behavor, genetic, neuroscience, etc). All my research is too far from pseudoscience just to be clear. Unfortunatelly I can not write here something related you ask because english is not my first language and there are some terms that need to be understanding very well, without ambiguity and I am not able to manage that in my basic english. I´m sorry. The only thing I can say is take care of yourself because the energy needs to manifest itself in one way or another and that changes our genetic program and can cause diseases. Good to read you are talking about that. My last comment: in the phase I understand you are please do not try to understand why? those things happened. It will be time from that in the future if you decide to do that.
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1 reply by LORI WILSON
Jan 09, 2020 6:01 PM
LORI WILSON
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Thank you, Sergio. I can feel your genuine care and concern in your words in spite of English not being your first language. I would like to learn more about what you are studying and very much appreciate that you took the time to respond to me today. Thank you!
Jan 09, 2020 3:14 PM
Replying to Vincent Guerard
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Lori,
Sorry for your losses.

I would say find people you can talk about your sadness in your private life or close work relation. It needs time, but don't bury it.
100% agree here - do NOT bury it.
I am so very sorry for the losses shared by everyone on this post and I thank Lori for raising such an important topic.

It is refreshing to see a discussion on how our personal lives spill over into our professions. At times in my career I have felt some employers have preferred to keep the two separate but the reality is that every component of our life is intertwined.

This past October I lost my 13 month old son in his sleep. No health problems and the autopsy has shown no cause of death. For me coping has involved:

- Returning to familiar routines, places and people in small but increasing measures as quickly as possible (the "new normal").

- Joining a small men's group for support and encouragement

- Reading books and blogs about others who have experienced similar tragedies and understanding how they deal with the pain

- Crying about it: alone, with my wife, with close friends who understand

- Acknowledging the pain and senselessness of it all, and allowing myself whatever time is needed to heal. I am grateful for an employer who allowed unquestioned time to grieve with my family.

Personally, I can now empathize deeply with others who share the same experience. Professionally, it has further changed my perspective on what is truly important and the value of appropriate priorities in life. Project delays and scope changes seem much less stressful now.

Again, a welcome and meaningful post. Thank you.
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4 replies by Elok Robert Tee, LORI WILSON, Rami Kaibni, and Randi Krueger
Jan 09, 2020 4:31 PM
Randi Krueger
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My deepest condolences on the loss of your son. My daughter will be 13 months old this month. Your post is a sobering reminder that I need to be grateful for everything in my life. Thank you!

You hit the nail on the head when you indicated that "project delays and scope changes seem much less stressful now". Death of a loved one really refocuses your priorities. You realize that you gain nothing by stressing over the unimportant things.

Talk about a welcome and meaningful post. Thanks, Stephen!
Jan 09, 2020 6:08 PM
LORI WILSON
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Stephen, I cried reading your post. Oh, what tragedy! Thank you so much for being brave enough to share something so terribly personal and painful on this discussion board. I cannot even imagine your sorrow and loss. So much love is wrapped around a 13-month old little boy. I am so very, very sorry. It is hard when we grieve older people who have lived a long life, but when a life is cut short it is so hard. The father of the little girl who died is a carpenter and he built Ava Grace's coffin. At the funeral, they said some caskets are heavier than others - the little ones are the heaviest of all. I've been at my desk trying to work, but tears keep slipping down my cheeks. It made me wonder how others cope. Thank you for sharing what has helped you - I will cling to your list. I will also be praying for you and your wife and feel enormously honored you shared your story with me and others who may need help. Thank you
Jan 09, 2020 6:11 PM
Rami Kaibni
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Stephen

Thank you for sharing your story. I am very sorry for your precious loss, please accept my sincere condolences.

It takes lots of courage to write about it, and you just demonstrated this. I know you do not know any of us maybe in person but sometimes strangers can help you heal too.

We are your family here too Stephen, please do message me if you need anything and I will gladly do my best to help.

RK
Jan 10, 2020 12:32 AM
Elok Robert Tee
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Truly sorry for the loss of your son Stephen. And thank you for sharing, and for how you have coped. Your sharing added to the meaning of this thread.
Jan 09, 2020 4:24 PM
Replying to Stephen Beam
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I am so very sorry for the losses shared by everyone on this post and I thank Lori for raising such an important topic.

It is refreshing to see a discussion on how our personal lives spill over into our professions. At times in my career I have felt some employers have preferred to keep the two separate but the reality is that every component of our life is intertwined.

This past October I lost my 13 month old son in his sleep. No health problems and the autopsy has shown no cause of death. For me coping has involved:

- Returning to familiar routines, places and people in small but increasing measures as quickly as possible (the "new normal").

- Joining a small men's group for support and encouragement

- Reading books and blogs about others who have experienced similar tragedies and understanding how they deal with the pain

- Crying about it: alone, with my wife, with close friends who understand

- Acknowledging the pain and senselessness of it all, and allowing myself whatever time is needed to heal. I am grateful for an employer who allowed unquestioned time to grieve with my family.

Personally, I can now empathize deeply with others who share the same experience. Professionally, it has further changed my perspective on what is truly important and the value of appropriate priorities in life. Project delays and scope changes seem much less stressful now.

Again, a welcome and meaningful post. Thank you.
My deepest condolences on the loss of your son. My daughter will be 13 months old this month. Your post is a sobering reminder that I need to be grateful for everything in my life. Thank you!

You hit the nail on the head when you indicated that "project delays and scope changes seem much less stressful now". Death of a loved one really refocuses your priorities. You realize that you gain nothing by stressing over the unimportant things.

Talk about a welcome and meaningful post. Thanks, Stephen!
Lori

Sorry for your losses and to hear that you are going through this at the moment.

I hear you loud and clear. 2019 was in a way and on a personal level, a sad year for me but I've learned to be strong and learn that life goes on. It can be tough but we can do nothing about what we can't control.

I hope the coming days will be better days for you and your loved ones and I am here for your if you need any support or a friend to talk to.

Cheers
RK
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1 reply by LORI WILSON
Jan 09, 2020 6:10 PM
LORI WILSON
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Thank you, Rami. I remember when you traveled home to deal with loss. I am genuinely sorry that 2019 was a hard year for you, and I pray that 2020 will be one of rejoicing and celebration. Thank you for reaching out to me and for your support. I was embarrassed and hesitant to post this discussion, but now I am very grateful I did. Thank you!
Jan 09, 2020 2:24 PM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
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I had the unfortunate experience of a team lead dying during a project. This was difficult for all project members. We rallied around the idea that we could persevere and excel, in memory of our colleague and friend.
Thank you, Stéphane. I appreciate and believe that can be helpful for others when something like that happens.
Jan 09, 2020 2:54 PM
Replying to Alexandre Costa
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Lori
Very sorry to hear about your losses.

When I was on a mission in Bosnia Herzegovina two colleagues died in a tragic accident during the mission. I imagine that each one lives these situations differently, in my case I focused more at work, I spent more time providing humanitarian aid and to pay more attention to listening to the feelings of the others colleagues. I think this all helped to soften the feeling of loss.

Alexandre Costa
Dear Alexandre: That must have been so hard to lose two colleagues. I cannot imagine, but appreciate you sharing things that worked for you. Sometimes it can be hard to think beyond oneself when we are heartbroken, but I also believe it can help us in the healing process to think of others. Thank you for that reminder!
Jan 09, 2020 3:10 PM
Replying to Randi Krueger
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Lori - I definitely feel for you. My deepest condolences.

I had approximately 1 full year of upheaval. I worked at the same company as my mother. We lost her shortly after I started my job at HPE (4 months into the job). I was 27 at the time and had returned home to take care of my mother in her final days. I remember my father waking me up to inform me of her passing. I went downstairs and realized I had the unfortunate duty of informing everyone (directors, managers, etc) at our mutual place of employment of her passing. I went to work that day feeling very hollow, but feeling like I needed to work to avoid my sadness. I also happened to be knee deep in studying for my PMP. I passed the exam only 3 months after her passing and was 3.5 months pregnant at the time of her passing. The saddest part was not having her around anymore as a confidante (I used to speak with her for hours because we lived two states apart and we were exceptionally close). I am not as close to anyone (spouse included) as I was to her. It was also devastating that she would never meet her first grandchild either. She really was looking forward to that. Around November, my Dad started dating a new woman. I was happy for him, but also feeling very depressed because it solidified that she was gone. I had my son 6 months after her passing and suffered through postpartum depression for the next year. My Dad also sold my childhood home, moved in with his girlfriend (who is now his wife), and proposed to her a little over a year after my Mom's passing. I also almost lost my dog due to kidney failure right before my son was born. My marriage almost fell apart too because my spouse became very distant. He is not necessarily close to his family like I am with mine, so he was unsure how to handle such a loss. He was also had a pretty great relationship with my mother and it probably hurt him too. As a result, he retreated from me. We sought couples counseling and the counselor essentially made me feel like our marriage falling apart was entirely on me. Suffice it to say, we stopped attending. It felt like the world was taking a giant dump on me. The only comfort I had was that I was performing admirably at work... at the expense of my mental health.

Everyone at work knew what had happened and they all begged me to take time off. In retrospect, I should have taken some time and sought out some counseling very early. You feel numb in the beginning, but grief steamrolls over you after a month or two. I believe my postpartum depression was significantly tied to this.

Everyone responds differently to tragedy and death. What works for me won't necessarily work for you. Something that does work is taking stock of all the wonderful things (and people) in your life. You get a newfound appreciation for life once someone close to you passes and you stop wasting your time on unimportant things. My Mom's passing was the impetus for me to make healthy changes (after I eventually got help).

Good luck to you. Remember, grief comes in waves and doesn't necessarily dissipate over time.

Present day: My marriage is stronger, I have two beautiful children, and my dog who suffered the kidney failure is still with us. I'm not sure how I made it through that very dark period, but surrounding yourself with loved ones and "disposing of all the noise" really played a role in my being here today.
Randi: Your terrible year is overwhelming. I cannot even imagine what loss you must have felt during this time and yet you were so courageous and were highly functional at work. You are a very strong person and I am so happy to see what your present day looks like. Thank you for all the reminders about taking stock of the beauty in my life and making healthy changes. Your note is very inspiring and wish you continued blessings.
Jan 09, 2020 3:14 PM
Replying to Vincent Guerard
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Lori,
Sorry for your losses.

I would say find people you can talk about your sadness in your private life or close work relation. It needs time, but don't bury it.
Thank you, Vincent. Reaching out today was one way to not bury it. I am enormously grateful to all who have been responding today. This is a place where we can all support one another, and I appreciate this support so much.
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