Work-Family Is A Word

Team

This week I learned something about “work-family.”


Yes, work is not family–it’s your job.


But on the job we meet people that influence us, change us, and sometimes inspire us. 


Not everyone has a positive impact on us–some people we work with are bad, unbalanced, selfish, biased, and abusive–they bring their personal craziness into the office. 


But some are truly good people out there–and they leave a lasting impact. 


This week was the first time I experienced someone in my group passing away suddenly. 


She was at work Monday and Tuesday–we had talked and joked.


I remember she wore pink on Tuesday and it matched a pink stuffed animal on her desk–she looked happy or at peace. 


By early Wednesday morning, I was getting texts then calls that she had passed away (I simultaneously let my boss know). 


One day she was there in the office (and had been for some 30 years) and the next day she was gone.


But there was something special about this lady and how she interacted with the team. 


She seemed to touch people far and wide with her outreach, caring for others, joking around, and good spirit despite whatever challenges she herself may have been going through.


When she passed this week, people were in my office and the halls crying–they loved this lady, their coworker and friend.


At 9 AM, I gathered the broader team to announce her passing. “One of our own has passed.” I spoke and then went around offering others to say a few words, which some surely did. 


At 10 AM, I sent a notification of the passing to the people in the entire building (and others associated).


Later in the day, there was a toast to her and more speeches from up and down the chain to remember this good lady as well as to pull together as a team to support each other.


By the next day, things had quickly moved to care for the family, packing her office things and memorializing her, as well as provisions for some grief counseling. 


[Note: I am blessed with an extraordinary high-performance team, and this passing was not only a shock but added to the intensity of the work we do and how much of it there is.]


Once we have all the funeral arrangements, then next up is sending out an broader department-wide notice–and a large attendance for her is expected. 


What I learned is that while work itself can be productive and meaningful, through doing good to others and sincere personal interactions on the job, there can be bonds formed that can have a personal impact on people and bring tears to their eyes. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Comfort In Mourning

Comfort In Mourning
While sitting in mourning (Shiva) for my dad (as previously I did just last year for my mom), people come and say the ancient Jewish words of comfort:

 

“May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!”

 

The experience of sitting Shiva is humbling, being in mourning, sitting on a low stool, unshaven, and with torn garb, and reciting the words of the Kaddish (mourners prayer) out loud.

 

“…May He who makes peace in the high places, grant [in his mercy] peace upon us, and upon all Israel, Amen.”

 

But more than anything, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from so many good people in the community.

 

People have come to pray with me, tell me wonderful stories about my dad, and generally share with me in my mourning for him.

 

I have been truly taken by the many people who have come both in good health, but also from people that were blind and with everything from broken arms to walking canes and to those who called thinking of me while they themselves are sick or even wheelchair-bound.

 

People have shared their own stories of grief to let me know I wasn’t alone, and they brought food so I definitely wouldn’t be hungry.

 

Others have told me how wonderful my dad was as a friend and in the community, how he made people smile and was always in good spirits (even perhaps when he had good reason not to be), and how he did so many good deeds (some that were known and many others that were not).

 

I have been amazed how people stay not just for prayer services, but take the time to really talk to me, to give selflessly and generously, even from their own busy family and work lives and schedules.

 

Some of the people I know from the community, some just knew my dad, but I realize how these good, giving people are really worth knowing as human beings–not because they were my dad’s friends or gave to me at this time of mourning, but because they are truly spiritual people, who just desire to do some good in the world–like my dad who did this for others (and how he taught me all my life and especially as a child).

 

I hope that this time of mourning is not just one of finding comfort and healing, but also a re-awakening of my own feelings for community, spirituality, and selflessness.

 

I have much room for personal growth for myself, but also many role models around who have set the bar very high. Also, my dad has left some VERY big shoes for me to fill. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)