No Stages, Just a Flood

Back in 1969, Elsabeth Kubler-Ross proposed that there are several stages of grief and/or loss:

  • Denial and isolation
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

You move from one to the next until you’re finally out of the hole and able to move on with life.  I don’t know about that.  My experience in the last few days is that the stages come flooding over you all at once, which adds to the chaos and confusion of the situation.  There’s barely time to get another breath before the next wave comes.  Sometimes, you just have to hold your breath that much longer and pray that you don’t drown while waiting for the next chance at air.

The current economy has been rickety, at best.  Companies are doing exactly what every average Joe is doing in their personal life: finding the best bang for their buck.  Unfortunately, for service/goods providers, it means that customers will get up and move to another vendor if the grass is cheaper on the other side of the fence, regardless of a long relationship with the original vendor.  Loyalty counts for little these days.  We saw how little loyalty counts this past week.

Over the course of several days, hundreds of people were let go from our company.  It wasn’t just our location but across the nation.  I totally understand the whole bottom line thing, tightening the belt, etc. If the customer base shrinks, you have to do something to remain viable.  However, it’s the “who”  that was let go that really gets to me.  Rather than evaluating and re-evaluating what constitutes essential personnel, the corporate office gave the mandate to swing the ax and the ax was aimed at middle management.  Yes, there were definitely some that were redundant and needed to leave.  However, many that were chopped were managers and supervisors who had been with the company for a number of years.  These were the people with experience, knowledge and expertise that could get a customer what they needed, no matter how square the peg was that they were trying to jam into a round hole.  I had a good working relationship with several of them across the country. I ache for them and their families. There was one, though, that completely took all of us by surprise.

He was a member of management at our facility. Many people in other divisions of the company looked to his experience to get a new customer set up correctly.  They loved working with him and considered him to be a friend.  He had been with the company for many years and he enjoyed untangling some of the trickiest situations so that both we (at the company) and the customer stayed happy.  That was not any easy thing to do.  This went further, though.

To say he and I had a good working relationship is an understatement.  He knew he could count on me to get something done quickly, accurately and without the fanfare that some of the other people in my department like to have accompanying their assistance.  I knew he would not only answer a question but would also give me the “why”, which is sometimes more important than the answer itself.  I came into the company knowing more about the industry than many of my peers but he stretched my knowledge and experience even further.  I am forever indebted to him for that. Most of all, he was one of my last links to sanity in the growing tension at the office. We could vent to each other and know that the other was listening without judgement.  We jabbed at each other mercilessly, knowing full well that it was all in good fun. We got together occasionally with our spouses for a meal or just to hang out (he started out as my husband’s boss and they quickly became very good friends).

I cannot express the extent of the wound or the depths of the waves of grief that are washing over me. They defy description.  The remainder of last week was mostly shock, though some of the other emotions had started to settle in.  I am now crashing from denial to anger to despair to depression and back again.  The waves break over top of me and knock me back down to the bottom.  Having the strength to swim to the surface is getting harder and harder.  I honestly don’t know how I’m going to be able to function tomorrow back at the office.  The numbness of the shock is gone. Now, all I can feel is pain and all I can see is chaos.

I know that God allowed this to happen for a reason, likely many reasons. I know that He will sustain both me and our friend.  My faith in God has not wavered.  I just need strength – lots of it – to want to keep swimming to the top for air.

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