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 | By Tim Ryan

Don't Underestimate Feelings of Grief From Losses at Work

We go through a mourning process at the times in our lives when we experience grief and sorrow over a loss of some kind, typically that of a loved one. But if you stop and think for a moment, there are many other times in our lives when we encounter losses. For example, throughout our work lives we all have experienced disappointments such as being overlooked for a promotion or a new job, or, worse yet, losing a job. When we lose a loved one, we are expected to mourn; people go out of their way to support us, and we turn to God for strength.

Conversely, losses at work are not considered as traumatic and we are expected to just “suck it up” and move on. But over time these losses begin to slowly chip away at our psyche and self-esteem. We receive little, if any, support, and we think we can take care of it ourselves rather than asking God for help. We believe our happiness lies in just trying harder to achieve better paying, more powerful positions.

To begin to counteract these tendencies, business leaders need to more deeply examine their motivations when making decisions that affect people:

1.  Is this decision really the best for everyone concerned? Or am I allowing personalities and the “bottom-line” to cloud my judgment?

2.  I know my business has a purpose to serve. Am I allowing God to guide us or am I more concerned about profit?

3.  How can I support employees when I have to make those legitimate, tough decisions that affect their lives?

Employees need to examine the reason for their grief at the time of a lost promotion, opportunity, or job:

1.  Was I treated unjustly? Or am I simply upset because my ego took a hit, and I’m not going to make more money like I’d hoped?

2.  I know God has a purpose for me. Am I trusting God’s guidance in my career, or am I seeking happiness through my paycheck and position?

A dynamic of the mourning process is the feeling that we may never be happy again. Then when hear Christ say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-12) Some may think that we must suffer on earth in order to be happy in heaven. But, the Church also teaches us that we have a natural desire for happiness and that God has placed it in our hearts. (CCC 1718) I propose that what this beatitude means is that if we address our loss through God’s wisdom, rather than that of this world, we will be comforted now, and experience satisfaction in our work and a taste of eternal joy here on earth.