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The Devastating Impact of September 11th Years Later​

The Devastating Impact of September 11th Years Later​

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Carrie Green talks about her experience watching the World Trade Center Towers fall on September 11th and the aftermath of helping those crossing the Hudson River to escape the horrors of that fateful day. 

As someone who worked in the World Trade Center as well as for the New York Stock Exchange, she and her fellow employees felt the events of that day on a very personal level. Carrie knew many people in the area around the Trade Center that day who traveled daily into New York City. In addition to that, her boss had been at Cantor Fitzgerald the day before conducting business in the Center. 

She and her fellow employees watched as the awful events unfolded from the big beautiful picture windows overlooking the Hudson River from their Jersey City, NJ office. Carrie talks about watching the first tower fall, objects falling from the building, which she later would know, were people jumping to escape the flames and 29 minutes later watching the second tower fall. 
Carrie outlines some crucial.

Carrie outlines some crucial points for managers to understand about grief and about handling an ongoing crisis in the workplace. Her company did many things that reflect a caring, compassionate attitude that helps employees handle crisis and grief. 

First, the company banded its employees together to offer much-needed community service to the individuals crossing the Hudson River to escape the unfolding events in lower Manhattan. The company employees felt some comfort themselves just being able to help others in need.

Second, it’s apparent from Carrie’s recollection of the event of 9/11, that often, grief and the feelings associated with pain don’t just “go away” even though a significant amount of time has passed. Some wounds don’t heal. They become more manageable but the feelings don’t leave. That is an important message for managers. Trauma stays with us and its important for managers to really understand that fact is an asset to the company and the employees. Managers who are equipped to handle those recurrent times are much better managers for it.

Third, while Carrie describes how offering help to those coming from Manhattan evolved, it is apparent that having an emergency plan in place to handle a grief or trauma situation BEFORE the need arises would be a tremendous asset to the company and its employees. While your company may not need a plan that encompasses the scale of September 11th, you can’t be sure that your company won’t be the one to experience workplace violence or the death of an employee or the aftermath of a hurricane that devastates your city. Putting a plan together that designates one person to take charge, to make decisions is not only possible but advisable.

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GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A CHILD TO DRUGS

GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A CHILD TO DRUGS

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Jeffery Veatch talks about living with the painful loss of his son Justin, a talented musician who tragically died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of seventeen and how he and his wife, Marina struggled with surviving.

He describes the unbearable moments he experienced after reaching work early one morning and being told to return home immediately. He doesn’t know how he was able to drive home that fateful morning but goes on to describe pulling up to his home and seeing the coroner’s van in his driveway and viewing his son’s body.

Jeffery talks about Justin’s normal, happy childhood and how his passion and talent for music grew with him into his teen years. When Justin slipped into drug experimentation and addiction, his parents did all they could to support and keep him out of drugs.

Today, he honors his son by taking the love he has for Justin and sharing his story as a way to keep others from the same fate. Through a foundation set up in Justin’s honor, speaking to young adults, and sharing the beautiful music his son wrote and recorded, Jeffery and his family are making a difference in the midst of one of the worst drug crises we have experienced as a nation.

"You have put together such a powerful message in Justin's honor. I am just amazed at how you have been able to do that. I can't even imagine how many lives you touched and saved based on the work you are doing."     Linda Trignano, Podcaster - Workplace Trauma Solutions

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Jeffery produced a film which took two and half years to finish. It’s called “Whispering Spirits”,  named after one of Justin’s songs.  We got a grant to make it available to people anywhere in the country such as teachers and other groups that could hold a film screening and then have a discussion afterward about the situations surrounding drug use and loss. Jeffery said the file has become a tool that he and his family are very proud of. We offer the film free of charge because we didn’t want to ever make any money off it. Anyone who goes to the website www.whisperingspirits.com cannot only watch the film but if they’re going to show it in a community format, they can get a copy of it free of charge, and there’s a discussion guide goes with it.

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DOWNSIZING GRIEF TAKES ITS TOLL

DOWNSIZING GRIEF TAKES ITS TOLL

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Pat Werscherl talks about how downsizing affected her and her team, which she considered to be like family. During a large corporate merger and subsequent layoffs, Pat and her team experienced many of the emotions associated with grief. She talks about the denial that the company would actually be sold and the anger she experienced when the sale was completed to finally accepting the changes.

"We went through the grieving process. First there was this denial like well maybe they’d change their mind. Just constant rumors. So you went through the denial, and of course, then there was the anger. “Look what we've contributed to the company for all these years”; Look at the good service we’ve given to them".


Pat Werscherl
Corporate Manager
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The lack of assigned work to focus on each day along with the ongoing changes and many distractions led to lethargy, lost focus, and some serious, costly mistakes. The company did nothing to help their employees constructively deal with the emotions of grief and loss and this made the situation much worse. Effective Grief in the Workplace coaching would have lessened the negative impact to the employees and the company.

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An Executive’s Unexpected Journey

An Executive’s Unexpected Journey

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Ron Gold talks about a bike ride that put him on a path he never expected to take and forever changed his life. After being hit and seriously injured by an SUV, Ron's successful 25-year career on Wall Street ended abruptly. He went through five months of hospitalization and therapy and returned home to begin a new life that depended on full-time care. That need set him on the path of entrepreneurship that today has helped thousands who have similar needs.

"Plans change when life smacks you in the face. How you respond to that change of plans is up to you".   Ron Gold, LeanOnWe.com

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Coach Linda explores his decision to leave his job on Wall Street despite managers who would have eagerly accepted him back to his prior job and instead start his company Lean On We.

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Grief Lessons from Yoga Class

Grief Lessons from Yoga Class

Grief Coach Linda Trignano

By Linda Trignano

Silhouette of Young Woman Doing Yoga
Normally I don’t take a yoga class at the gym.  I often find the session a challenge for my body which resists bending and stretching in the way my fellow classmates seem to easily be able to manage.  But for some reason that I can’t fully explain, I had a desire to take this class that referred to the 1-hour yoga class as “restorative.”  That sounded gentle enough for me to endure.  It was, and I was glad that I had made the decision.  But it is the pearls of wisdom that the yoga teacher shared with us, the challenges she gently presented us with, the invitation to think deeper that I wanted to share with you today.  I think that when considered through the eyes of grief, the thoughts offer comfort and encouragement for your grief journey.
 

Pearl of Wisdom #1 – After getting into a challenging yoga pose, my body began the parade of physical signs reflective of my internal thoughts. “Let’s get this pose over with!” was uppermost in my mind.  The grimace, the loss of balance at one point, the verbal “ouch”, offered up by me and some of my fellow students led the teacher to the observation that many of us just wanted to end the pose. In a gentle, soothing voice she said: “remember, everything has a beginning, middle, and end”. She encouraged us to think about that during the pose, to focus on the benefit of each phase, to take what we could from the challenge of holding the pose.

And so it is with grief and loss. It too has a beginning, middle, and end. With grief it seems that the beginning arrives in our lives uninvited, stays way too long (the middle) and the end seems nowhere in sight. But holding to the thought that grief will pass through the beginning, to the middle and finally to the end offers comfort. My experience tells me that the “end” is often different for each of us.

"So many things in life are about loss:  death, losing a job, saying goodbye to a dear friend moving away, retiring. The list is endless. Life is often about saying goodbye. Letting go is difficult.”

Pearl of Wisdom #2 – During the yoga class, I glanced at the clock quite a few times. Thoughts of “how much longer??!!”, “how long have we been working our thighs??”, “what time will I get back home?” filled my head. I’m sure many of my classmates suffered the same thoughts.  It seems that many of my fellow students also couldn’t resist the urge to see what time it was – often during the hour. Our ever observant yoga leader took notice and offered the words “Time is an illusion. Now is all we have. Enjoy the now.”  The words helped me stop the parade of thoughts and focus on the present. And so it is with grief and loss. 

All too often we seem to be unable to stop thinking about what was, or what we want to be rather than the now. I know that the difficult challenge when one suffers a loss is letting go. Moving forward takes time in the grief process. But a gentle reminder to ourselves to enjoy something about the now will help us, soothe us, and possibly give us the needed strength to move forward even if moving forward is one small step. So many things in life are about loss: death, losing a job, saying goodbye to a dear friend moving away, retiring. The list is endless since life is often about saying goodbye and letting go is difficult.  

The yoga lesson offered me so much more than the physical exercise.  Accepting the wisdom of “everything has a beginning, middle, and end” and “enjoy the now” touched me because I was open to the message. I hope you too are open to that message

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Her Mom Died. What Should I Do and Say?

Her Mom Died. What Should I Do and Say?

Recently I learned that a dear friend’s mother passed away.  As I collected myself, I had many thoughts and feelings, which included sadness and concern for my grieving friend. I thought I would list a few questions that most of us ask ourselves when hearing about a loss. Perhaps it will give you some guidance and help you to take steps yourself to comfort someone grieving a loss.

“Should I call?”  “Is now the right time?” Since my friend’s mom lived across the country, I had no idea if my friend was alone, busy with the details of the wake and funeral, helping her dad or any other tasks that needed her attention. I decided to trust my heart and reach out to her right then. I was only able to leave a , but I felt better knowing that she knew I was thinking about her. A return message from her told me that she felt better knowing that so many of her friends were letting her know that they were thinking of her with loving support.

What should I say?

“What should I say?” “Will I make things worse?” For me, there is often that moment of doubt when first reaching out to someone who has just suffered a loss. What if I don’t know what to say and end up saying nothing? Somehow the right words might come or perhaps saying nothing and being present with them in the moment might be what the grieving person needs. Trusting yourself is the right path to choose. In times of grief, we want to know that others are supporting us whether it is in thoughts, prayers, words or action.  Even the strongest person needs comfort and support during difficult times.


After the call, then what?

One way to handle this question is to ask them what you can do to help them. Avoid saying “Call me if you need me.” Sometimes the best thing to do might be bring dinner and spending time with them. Sometimes make yourself available for a phone conversation and listen to them talk would be the best choice. If they are not up to talking, send a card with a note to let them know that you are thinking about them.

Even if you are uncomfortable (and many people are), it is better to extend yourself and reach out to someone experiencing grief or loss.

Coach Linda

Call or connect via email with me if you have a suggestion for a blog post or if you would like to be a guest blogger on this site.

You Just Never Know

You Just Never Know

Recently an article appeared in my local newspaper that caught my attention.  A woman wrote to the newspaper to apologize and thank a man she had encountered at the post office.  Seems the man held the door open for her as she entered the building but lost in her own thoughts, she failed to notice or thank the man for his kindness. 

With no word or acknowledgement from her, his loud booming  “you’re welcome!” snapped her out of her own thoughts and back to the present moment.

She continues writing to say how sorry she was for not acknowledging the kindness (as she usually does) but was distracted that day.  A close friend called to tell the woman that her father just died suddenly of a massive heart attack.  This woman had been a support to the writer whose own father was gravely ill in a nursing home the past few weeks.  As she entered the post office, she was thinking about the irony and sadness of it all and how she could help her friend when the man mentioned above delivered his “you’re welcome”.

How often do you play that role?

The story reminded me of just how often I play one of those roles in my own day-to-day life.  Since I work with those in grief or very difficult life transitions, job loss, death, or divorce, I am often lost in thoughts of how they are feeling or how I can help them, or even my own personal issues at the moment. 

How many times have I not acknowledged a kind gesture another person extended to me?  How often do I just not see it as I drift in a sea of my own thoughts?  Other times, I extend a kindness to someone and they ignore the gesture or don’t seem to notice or care.  Do they just not care?  Are they lost in thoughts and difficulties I can’t see or imagine?  Fact is, I just don’t know.

When I encounter a stranger….

The newspaper article gave me an insight; a reason to pause and reflect on the burdens each of us carries at various times in our lives.   When I encounter a stranger I don’t really know what is going on with them at that moment.  I don’t know if they are experiencing a difficult time in their life or if they are just the ungrateful type who would never acknowledge a kindness extended to them.  I do know that I have a choice.  I can extend the kindness.  How the person on the receiving end takes it is really up to them.  I have no part in that. 

Extending the kindness enriches my life.  That in itself is a wonderful gift to me.  If the receiver takes it and acknowledges it, I’m doubly blessed.

The flip side of this however is that these are difficult times for many of us.  The newspaper article reminded me to allow room for others to grieve, to work through their difficulties in ways that work for them.  The path of grief is often jagged and sometimes causes the behaviors that we see and experience to seem a little harsher than normal.

My insight? 

I’m best served by choosing to extend love and kindness to others I encounter throughout my day.  I just never know what they are going through.  Easy to say, tough to do?  Yes but the woman in the post office served as a reminder to try and walk in love and kindness each day.

Grief's Ebb and Flow

Grief's Ebb and Flow

There is no doubt; these are difficult times on many levels.  Some of the people I speak with talk about losing their savings in the down market. Others talk about job loss and how frightened they are of a future that is uncertain. These and many other life losses lead to profound grief.

Its one thing to know that you are feeling the pull of grief but it is quite another thing to know what to do about it. Sometimes it is the realization that you have no control that fuels the feelings of grief.

Find a Support Person

If you can, find someone you can share your feelings with. Your real feelings not just the ones you think they want to hear. This can be hard to do but once you take that first step, you just might feel a whole lot better.

Very often adversity leads to a renewal within you. This might be a good time to look at what you value most in your life and really begin to focus on the people and things in your life that are most important to you. If you are in the depths of grieving now, hold tight. The storm will pass and you will emerge renewed.

Remember the butterfly. The struggle is often part of your life’s journey.