May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States if you, ironically, were not aware. For the most part we are supposed to pretend our feelings don't exist inside of work hours here (the exception might be if you're a therapist) and corporate support of mental health is pretty close to this comic that floats around on social media this time of year.
A big piece of mental health is being given the space and the grace to process things like our feelings— including grief. And we are notably, as a society, pretty terrible at grief. We shove it down, we soldier on. We try our best to ignore it or stand by awkwardly when someone in our orbit is going through it.
"I am here for you!" we say, because what else do you say? We are given so few tools for this.
It's even hard to allow the label of grief for kinds of loss that don't revolve around the classics of grandmothers and maybe dogs. Anne Helen Petersen talked about it in her recent piece This Is Not Just A Post About Dog Grief:
"It’s not normal, or ironic, or even slightly funny that we’re this bad at making space to process loss and suffering...We have so little language to describe the onset of grief in our lives, and so little expectation of accommodation for it. We don’t know how to be still in our sadness. And if you won’t allow yourself that grace, it’s so difficult to authentically extend it to others."
So I'd like for this post to be that— an authentic extension of space to grieve, should you need it. The tech industry has been rife with loss recently and a loss of a job or an opportunity is still a loss. The grief surrounding it can be big or small, but either one deserves its space to be felt.
So grieve your layoff.
Grieve your second layoff.
Grieve your rejection email.
Grieve that missed or canceled opportunity.
Grieve your ghosting by that company or recruiter.
Grieve that lost client.
This is grief, too.
Everything does not happen for a reason. I am not here for you, because I am not here to fix you. Feelings are not something to be fixed. I am here with you, for all that I am a somewhat faceless entity behind a blog.
"Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."
The good news is, you don't have to carry it alone. Take a little time for the journey and lay the foundation for your grief, so you can move on.
About the Author: Sarah A. Parker is a freelance writer and the founder/owner of Sparker Works LLC. She brings 14 years of experience in the tech industry at B2B SaaS companies (including Bazaarvoice, Union Metrics, TrendKite, Cision, MURAL, Productboard, and more) to her clients and to this blog. She holds a BS and an MA in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and has guest lectured classes at UT and Texas State University in addition to speaking at Social Media Week Austin and at the Ragan Social Media conference. She's an enthusiast of book clubs, trail running, large dogs, and trivia nights. You can find her work and more on her website.
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