Good Grief

Jan. 27, 2020

When was the last time you felt a tear well up at work? How a man, a peanut, and a tweet remind us about love, loss, and mourning while moving on at work. 

In the nearly 12 years I've worked alongside the Food Processing team, I've experienced a fair share of loss. From colleagues' deaths to my own personal tragedies, I've always held my head high and worked through my grief, careful not to let my colleagues see that inside I was heartbroken. 

I lost my father nearly two months ago. His death was sandwiched in between two major holidays and during a time when most people were powering up their vacation time and powering down their communication. It was almost a gift in and of itself to be able to sort of fly under the radar with my sadness. I worked remotely through the holidays which helped me hide the tears that were creeping in. 

When everyone came back online post-holidays, it was a new year and a new outlook. I'd managed to package up my emotions and tuck them back away much the same way I did my holiday decorations. 

That is, until yesterday afternoon. I was driving when I heard that retired NBA star Kobe Bryant had just died in a helicopter crash. At first I was shocked that he and I were so close in age, but then as the details came out about all of those that were on board, heartbreak crept back in. Lives were lost. Families were broken up. Parents perished as did children. 

Suddenly, I was grieving again. 

Maybe because I'm still in the thick of it in my own life, I've been prone to choose compassion for others when I recognize their grief. 

When we posted a news item a few weeks ago about a CEO slamming the U.S. via Twitter,  we received some backlash from a few readers. What some saw as us 'going political,' I saw as grieving. When Mr. Peanut died under mysterious circumstances last week, despite knowing the obvious tie-in to the big game on February 2, I took to our news section to write something of an obituary. In my own way, it was a form of grieving but getting to do so through my two favorite things: writing and wit. 

In 2012, Putman Media and Food Processing lost two amazing women. Our own Diane Toops' passed in October 2012. Her legacy was enormous and she still lives on in the pages of our magazine and on our website. I get to see her work and her impact as much as I want to and when I feel that urge to get inspired.

Similarly, when Putman lost our beloved sister/daughter/mother, Julie Cappelletti Lange, in April of that year, it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room the loss was so deep. I'm fortunate to get to walk past a memorial in our office that is dedicated to her. It serves as a great reminder to her legacy. 

Diane, Julie, Kobe, my father -- While they all left their own impressions on the world, what I'm reminded of is how important it is to let ourselves and our colleagues grieve and mourn even if we all seem absolutely fine on the outside. 

There are numerous resources available that speak to how to cope with grief, especially at work. I've listed a few below in case you yourself find yourself in similar circumstances: 

  • Don't assume other coworkers know you're grieving
  • Don't expect that you can always hide your grief during the workday
  • Be kind to yourself and remember it's okay to ask for others to share some of your tasks right now
  • In that vein, let others help you
  • Focus on doing things (i.e., constructive tasks)
  • If at all possible, find a quiet area to retreat to when you feel a wave of grief swelling up

I think when it comes to grief and how we handle it in an arena where we're supposed to always be stoic and on our game, it's important to remember that grieving is good. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Managing and Reducing Methane Emission in Upstream Oil & Gas

Measurement Instrumentation for reducing emissions, improving efficiency and ensuring safety.

Rosemount™ 625IR Fixed Gas Detector (Video)

See how Rosemount™ 625IR Fixed Gas Detector helps keep workers safe with ultra-fast response times to detect hydrocarbon gases before they can create dangerous situations.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...