Grief. A universal human emotion to the experience of loss. The idea of grief and grieving is typically correlated to death, but grief can be experienced in numerous different ways. When it is, the effects can be far reaching, beyond our personal lives, and into the workplace.
And so we kick off Season II of the White Collar Therapy Show with this disconcerting subject. A subject inspired by a jarring experience I had on New Year’s Eve, just days prior to recording show #8.
My baby! My baby! Call an Ambulance.
Downtown Philadelphia. 11:30 PM local time, New Year’s Eve. My fiancé and I are in the hotel lobby. At the lounge, getting our final round of drinks to celebrate the new year. We were headed towards the elevators when suddenly…pandemonium.
As you will hear me describe in the video, a group of party goers had fled the elevators, in desperation, and with a woman howling in agony. As we approached, the horror was realized. The woman howling was a young African-American mother. Her toddler daughter lay on the cold tile floor, unresponsive, wearing nothing but a diaper.
The man next to me was on his cell phone. “Are you on with 911,” I asked? He confirmed with a nod.
Knowing this, I approached the mother and her baby on the floor. A woman in her party, dressed in red fishnet lace attire from her neck to her thighs, wearing high heels, was attempting to give CPR. A hotel employee arrived by the toddler’s feet, with a medical kit. It wasn’t clear to me what he was doing.
Beside me, the mother. Sobbing. Howling. Pleading for help. What could I do? People were hovering around us. I felt helpless, but I couldn’t leave the moment. So, I reached out my hand and held the baby’s arm. I held her arm and said, “It’s ok. You’re going to be ok.” I wanted everything to be ok. I kept telling myself it will be.
The hotel employee pulled my hand off the baby. I don’t know why. The baby was dead!
When I saw the paramedics enter the hotel lobby entrance, I stood up and walked back to my fiancé. She was sitting on a couch nearby, watching frozen in horror. She said, “let’s go.” But I said no. We were in the moment, however terrible. I sat down beside her on the couch. We held hands, and fought back the tears.
The next morning, the little girl’s death was confirmed to us by hotel personnel.
The Grieving Process Begins
As uncomfortable as those few bewildering minutes were, the pain and suffering belongs to the parents of that little girl. And to their friends and family. For everyone else, we were only witnesses.
But the moment did not leave us unaffected. The emotional experience of grief seeped in.
Two days later, I was back at work. Back at my desk, on my computer. Back in the studio, “on the air” doing my live weekly broadcast. No matter what I did, those scenes from the hotel lobby that evening replayed in my mind repeatedly. Like an infinite loop.
How do you move onward when something this horrific won’t stop running through your mind? They say time heals, but does it?
Full Video Replay
Importance of Grieving
Sometimes it takes an experience like that to drive home how important it is to live in the moment. It’s easy to be in moments with emotional highs, but not so much when it’s the other way around. Painful, awkward, and uncomfortable moments. But it’s equally as important that we do.
Thus is the focal point of our conversation in this episode – dealing with grief in the workplace.
Grief in the Workplace
When grief affects us, it affects us in all areas of our lives. Not just at home. So how do we cope with that grief in our work and at our place of work? Coping with grief professionally around co-workers is different from coping with friends and family.
Robb focuses on the importance of staying in the moment, not rushing through in order to get onto the next thing. He calls it grieving but doesn’t limit it to the traditional idea of grieving for a death. It could be the loss of a relationship, a sudden geographical move, the loss of a dream job, a valuable client.
“I’m a firm believer in this,” he says, “When we take the necessary time to grieve and work through our emotions, sift through them, we have the potential to come out much stronger than ever before.”
Once we come through these events, we also become a valuable resource for others in our community. As we work through our own grief and reach out for help, that experience prepares us to offer help to others.
It begins by connecting with ourselves.
Change in Context, Not in Content
Fans of our first season became familiar with the show’s premise. Two friends, meeting in a coffee shop after not seeing each other for awhile. Talking about everything from the importance of active listening to how communication and connectivity transforms a company. Along the way, of course, we have some laughs as well.
The characterization aspect of the show was meant to provide a unique viewing and listening experience. Robb and I truly are great friends. And we don’t see each other often enough. We decided to do the Season I Finale out of character, and we like it. And so, we did show #8 out of character as well, and may be keeping it this way indefinitely.
White Collar Therapy is more than a bi-weekly show. It’s a community of career-minded professionals interested and willing to connect, share, and be vulnerable. Exploring important matters that affects in our personal and professional lives..from the INSIDE OUT.
There is also a podcast and a Facebook Group. For more information about WCT, read, “Introducing White Collar Therapy – Therapeutic Entertainment for Business People.”