Last Friday, with the emphasis on Mental Health & Wellbeing in the forefront at my current organisation, the GM gathered us as the whole organisation to share some sad news.
It was about our colleague whose wife had passed away over the weekend. When the name was mentioned, I though it sad but because I did not know the colleague well and considered that the person who had passed was aged, I though it was part of the cycle of life.
When the GM mentioned a young child, and I verified with the person standing next to me, it turned out that I was thinking of a totally different person.
Our colleague whose wife had passed away had had a baby girl a few weeks after my brother had welcomed his first daughter last year. They were a young couple, new parents with a barely one-year-old girl. She had kissed her beloved goodbye, hugged her baby goodbye and no doubt said “Mummy will see you very soon” and left on business in Adelaide. She passed away alone in her hotel room.
It is unimaginable what it was like for our colleague to receive that call. It is unimaginable thinking of him saying goodbye not realising it was the last time he’d feel her warmth again. See her smile again. Hold her baby again. What could we possibly say to this father and daughter in their time grief and loss.
Our GM offered the EAP for any employee who needs help to know what to say to our colleague, how to approach the family and deal with the news themselves. This is of course very necessary because it pushes many of the boundaries one may have had with grief.
On my part, and without bringing it to the most vulgar level and without any disrespect – I say WTF. That could just as easily have happened to my brother, his wife and little girl. That could be me, often away on business and over-nighting in hotel rooms. That’s most of us kissing our people goodbye and saying “See you later…”. I mean…it’s all f****d-up!
My learning from this family’s tragic news is this: The few occasions that I have left home upset, in a mood and once or twice without goodbye – has to stop. When D comes, it won’t give me time to do this all over again and make right. That last time – will be that last time. No time-turners.