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:
- Responding to Rumors
- Have you ever heard nasty rumors about yourself? When rumors are damaging, they can hurt our careers,
our self-esteem, and even our health. Sadly, our response to rumors often compounds the serious damage
- If You Weren't So Wrong So Often, I'd Agree with You
- Diversity of perspectives is one of the great strengths of teams. Ideas contend and through contending
they improve each other. In this process, criticism of ideas sometimes gets personal. How can we critique
ideas safely, without hurting each other, while keeping focused on the work?
- Cellf Esteem
- When a cell phone goes off in a movie theater, some of us get irritated or even angry. Why has the cell
phone become so prominent in public? And why do we have such strong reactions to its use?
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
- Scope Creep, Hot Hands, and the Illusion of Control
- Despite our awareness of scope creep's dangerous effects on projects and other efforts, we seem unable
to prevent it. Two cognitive biases — the "hot hand fallacy" and "the illusion
of control" — might provide explanations.
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- With hindsight, we sometimes recognize that we could have predicted the very thing that just now surprised us. Somehow, we missed the obvious. Why does this happen? Available here and by RSS on October 18.
- And on October 25: Workplace Memes
- Some patterns of workplace society reduce organizational effectiveness in ways that often escape our notice. Here are five examples. Available here and by RSS on October 25.
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