Thursday, May 5, 2011

Because they're mourning too

This past week has been, understandably, difficult.

And I have been reflective.

And I have learned something about myself.

Apparently, I can get a little mean when I'm sad.

I didn't realize it at first. See, this friend, I worked with him. So I dealt with the loss every time I came into work.

The information flow was lacking, at best. Management did not manage. Work (including mine) did not get done. People were snarky for no apparent reason. People seemed selfish at times.

And for my people, well, I'm their person. I'm the one they can talk to without judgement. The one who understands. And yes, being one of only (now) two women in our division, I'm the softer side. I'm the one they trust to not have to be big tough men all the time, and be understood, and not judged.

Which means I have to be there for them.

And all of this led up to an enormous amount of stress.

But I digress...

The end of the day we got the news, I realized that I had been not very nice during the day. I had been uncharacterisically judgy of those around me, snarky even. More importantly, I realized why.

If I were mad, I wouldn't be sad.

It seemed the minute I let my wall down, I crumbled.

Somehow, being angry helped me to keep going, helped me to be there.

The (unfortunate?) thing was there wasn't anything to be angry at. Nothing big. So I found myself being angry & snarky & judgy about little stupid things. Definitely at work. Probably at home too (sorry FireMan & FireGirl).

After that realization, I tried to keep my anger to myself (except for the occasional vent to FireMan), because I realized I wasn't really angry. I was hurting.
And I kept reminding myself that they're mourning too.

The lack of information flow?
Well, some of that I think was an inability for people to face what happened. Even if they're a manager & it's their job to distribute that info. I also think there were huge gaps because people didn't know exactly how to handle the situation. Not even those in HR. Our company, huge as it is, deals with several deaths of employees each year. Illness, natural causes, and accidents. In my seven years here, this is the first suicide. And I think they struggled with how & what to tell who & when.
Grief counsellors were scheduled, moved, brought in, rescheduled, moved again, extended.
They just didn't know what to do.

People were snarky & selfish & didn't manage & didn't work...
for the same reasons I did all of those things. They were mourning too.

And so I let myself be angry. I honor my coping mechanisms. But I did my best not to show it. Because that's just not nice.

But I grew patience, and grew understanding.

And I was their person.

They came to my desk and talked. They asked me to come to their desk and talk. Co-workers who had left our division years ago,... they came to me, and they talked. And I listened. And I nodded knowingly, because I understood everything they said. And when they asked me, I talked to them too.

Even when I just wanted everyone to go away and stop talking about it.

I broke down last Thursday night in bed. FireMan rubbed my back as I sobbed for my friend. I really wanted to call in on Friday. And the reason I wanted to call in was the very reason I couldn't.

See, my people travel during the week. Most of them were gone when we got the news. But on Friday? Everyone would be back. And everyone would want to talk. And the sore would be new for me, again.

And when they asked me to go buy a card for the family for everyone to sign, I did so. And I came back in & threw the card on my managers desk, and loudly sucked in air as I tried to hold back the tears on my way to the bathroom. And I sobbed in the bathroom stall for a while.

Then I composed myself, stormed back into the office, stiffened my jaw, and went about my work in an angry-ish silence. I'm sure anyone who might have seen me who didn't know me might have thought I was the biggest bitch that ever lived.

But my people? They just let me be. Because they knew. How? Because they're mourning too.


Missie said...

Oh FireWife, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I have been thinking about you since you posted about it, and I pray that you are able to get through this. Don't worry about the defense mechanisms you are using, or that others might think that you are being a bitch...all that matters is those that know you and love you know who you really are! You need time to grieve and heal yourself! Thank you for being so open and honest about your feelings. I really enjoy checking in on you!

Melani said...

Again I am praying for you and the situation you are living thru. My heart aches for you and especially since you worked with him. You can be angry, it is totally OK. Go thru the grieving process anyway you like, isn't that what friends should be saying to you? I agree with Missie, you need timeto grieve and heal.

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