Grief is often about death. But I suspect you and I both know that “death” and grief take many forms. I’m going to let further in my life than I usually do. It’s because I wish I’d known this before. Maybe my grief will help you.
Here’s what I’m grieving, even though no one is dead…
In 2008, I left a job where I had worked for 15 years. At that time, I had spent more than a third of my life there, really doing the work of my career. (They are still using some of the tools I worked on to this day.) But I had a falling out with my boss, and I went from favorite person to persona non grata. Just. Like. That. My work was my social life. My social life was my work. And then it wasn’t. And while I was (finally) married to the most supportive and loving partner, it didn’t stop the tremendous feelings of loss and struggle.
I had my concept of self-worth tangled up in my work, not in who I was as a person. It hit me so hard. I couldn’t believe something that had been so good and so much a part of my life could end so badly. The loss of the job was really a minor thing compared to the loss of relationships. There had been so many.
I felt such deep sorrow. And I felt so alone.
Then my therapist recommended a magical little book called “Good Grief” by Granger Westberg. It describes 10 phases of grieving – from shock to new reality. The author thinks differently than the classic Kubler-Ross denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Mr. Westberg validates our need to grieve
Today, I find myself grieving again. Not the loss of a job, but the loss of a friendship. This friend and her husband moved away a few years ago, and we went from seeing each other practically daily to no connection at all. Of course, it’s more complicated than a mere move, as with technology today that shouldn’t be a big barrier. But something about the loss of that face time really changed our relationship. I have asked myself again and again “Why?” What changed? What could I do differently? Where did it (I) go wrong?
This woman was one of the key people who helped me process that job loss. She really was the first friend I made as an adult and what a friendship it was. We were co-workers; we were moms; we were avid readers. Yet we were opposites in so many ways. And
This grief thing really took me by surprise this time. It is really inexplicable to me. This woman *knows* the most formative times of my adult life (getting married, getting divorced, having kids, losing my beloved kitty to kidney failure, getting promoted, getting promoted again (and again), finding the love of my life, leaving my previous job, starting a company, going to church, reading the same books, going out to at least weekly lunches. . . the list goes on and on).
Where am I going with this?
Well, first off, I busted out my little book about grief. It helped me
How about you? Have you been surprised by grief or loss at work or with a relationship? Feel free to drop me a line if you want to. Or let me know if you want a copy of “Good Grief.” I’d be delighted to share one with you. My email is khoots [at] wizardofads [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you.