Sometimes, Change Hurts

Photo credit: unsplash hjwkmkehbco-alvaro-serrano

Photo credit: unsplash hjwkmkehbco-alvaro-serrano

“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”

–Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

Concluding our change series, I would like to share some insights from the last year. And I’ll warn you now, this post is focused on one of the more difficult aspects of change: loss.

In October of last year our Ask Phoenix Solutions family was hit harder than we ever expected to be hit. One of our colleagues suffered a heart attack and days later passed away in the hospital. We were devastated by this loss. Looking back to “then” from our vantage of “now” has been so helpful to us in recent days.

Andrea joined APS as a Professional Development Specialist a year earlier. With years of early childhood education experience and a love for life that extended into her work life, Andrea was a terrific fit for the team. Whether it was reaching out to providers directly or working with the Marketing team on new materials to communicate our offerings, Andrea's perspective and personable manner drove her success.

Andrea's primary role at APS was to assist individuals and organizations with creating professional development plans. If someone was at a Step 3 and wanted to be at a Step 7, Andrea could help them map out the course to get them there. Her voice and laughter would permeate the office as she chatted calmly with folks throughout the day. She was a natural coach, guide, and cheerleader.

With Andrea's passing, the APS family spent weeks picking up the pieces and recreating the picture of what Andrea had been working on. We found ourselves looking at the world through the lens of loss and seeing the difference between then (life with Andrea) and now (life without Andrea).

Since Andrea’s passing the team has adjusted. We have moved desks around in the office. We have changed the office schedule to cover the times when Andrea would have been around to answer questions. We have a photo of Andrea with two other teammates on the bookshelf as a memento of her impact on our work and lives. We continue to be reminded of Andrea during our time together and now, at the anniversary of her passing, we are reminded again of our loss as a family.

Throughout the last year, the APS family worked to process our grief. Looking back on our progression I see a few things that we did well to help us move forward as a team.

Emotional honesty

We gave each other permission to “feel the feels” that accompany grief.

Togetherness

We stuck together. We did not require that any one of us process our grief alone. We recognized, then and now, that no one person could do or be everything we needed, but together we could work to meet those needs.

Attitude of gratitude

We were more thankful for each other and readily expressed that gratitude. We recognized that time could be short and wanted to be sure that our thankfulness was evident.

Loss in any form is challenging. There is no denying the impact of loss and the grief that accompanies it. And yet, we can survive the turmoil of change related to loss. By working together and helping each other we can meet and manage change, loss, and grief with grace and gratitude. We can enjoy the “now” and be thankful for the “then.”

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