One year later…….dealing with the loss of a friend you worked with

As the one year anniversary passes on the death of a co-worker, I find myself reflecting on what I have come to understand about his death, and my reaction to it, and the reaction of others.

First of all co-worker is a cold term, its naming almost indicates that grief should be short lived, neat & tidy. But many of our co-workers become significant people in our lives. We work side by side, we share important news, funny antidotes, talk about problems at home, etc.

Full time employees can spend more time in the workplace that with their families and friends meaning that co-workers actually become significant people in our lives, people we consider as friends or extended members of our families.

After my friends death, and that’s the title I shall replace with co-worker, I know my family wondered why I was having such an intense reaction to his death. They just wanted me to “go back to normal, be happy again”, I even heard the comment, “it’s not like he was your family”.

It’s as though I was assigned a period of time that would be deemed appropriate to grieve the death of this friend whom I worked with. After this time period – I was considered to be “dwelling on it”. I think I actually became a closet griever, and felt that I was entering a depression.

It felt to me that I could talk to no-one about this because people would question why I was dwelling on his death. I became exhausted and soon had trouble concentrating and keeping up with the demands of my family and other friends. I lost passion for the work that he and I did together, I lost my competitive streak, and began to dread pulling into the parking lot of the places we worked together, I avoided passing the places I saw him last. Most of all I avoided the dreams we had for our business ideas and avoided the work – because it reminded me too much of the pain of his loss, and according to everyone around me I was taking too long to grieve, so there must be something wrong with me.

I now understand that everyone’s response to grief is personal and appropriate to them and that titles in relationships do not necessarily determine depth of attachment or connection to friendship. Grieving for a friend or co-worker is very real and should not be assigned a value or level of severity merely because “you only worked with that person”.

“grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction, The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied -Mollie Fumia