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Pain

“It hurts, it hurts so much!” The young widow was sobbing in my office, recalling the few happy years she had with her husband who had died several weeks before in an accident. Her pain of grief—that aching feeling inside, the “emptiness” that grievers describe—is well known. A week later, another woman was engaging in very similar grieving behavior. She had been laid off from a job she loved, and described the same aching, empty feeling inside. When our bonds (with people, places, routines and even things) are broken, the physical and emotional pain of grief occurs along with anger as a part of the process. For people who have made their work and the workplace social environment the most important part of their lives, the loss or threat of loss of The Old can result in devastating pain.

As we grow and develop from infancy to adulthood, we learn who we are from important people around us—parents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, teachers, friends, colleagues and bosses. Part of our identity is tied up with our workplace role and how people around us act toward us. We read our OK-ness in the eyes of those important others, and when we are separated from them because of workplace change, the source of personal validation is lost…and grieved. The importance of workplace friends and associates takes on greater meaning in our mobile society where, for many, co-workers are extended family.


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