What do you say to friends and co-workers who lost their job in a large downsizing at your company? That was my dilemma last week.
I was torn with emotions. Relief and happiness that I was not one of the people to be terminated. Despair for those who were. Even a little guilt thrown into the mix since I guessed it was coming but could not say anything or I would have lost my job too since I’m in the Legal Dept and confidentiality is absolute.
“I’m sorry” just seemed so insufficient and no words could accurately express the turmoil and empathy I felt. In the end I settled on the truth. “I’m not sure what to say that doesn’t sound stupid but I want you to know I’m thinking of you.”
When you think about it, Monday to Friday you likely spend more waking hours with your co-workers on a daily basis than you do with your spouse or family so their leaving is going to be adjustment for all people concerned not just those that are gone.
The day after everyone left my workplace felt almost like we were at a funeral. The remaining employees, me included, were still an emotional wreck. I think there may have been more tears that day than the prior. When we were informed of the terminations people were in a state of shock but by the following day reality had set it. We were no longer going to be sharing stories and having coffee breaks with the people who had shared our lives for so long. We were in essence grieving over the loss of our friends and co-workers.
Again I was in a situation of what do you say to those who are left. “Everything will be alright” didn’t seem appropriate so again I pulled from my honest approach to life and said “Change happens. We don’t have to like it, but like it or not it’s going to happen. We just have to try to make the best of it.”
Nothing profound or terribly inspirational came out of my mouth last week but I hope those that I did talk to understand what I was trying to convey. Quite simply, that they aren’t alone and life will go on.