What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

Originally posted on The Billfold

 

The first thing that happens is someone tells you.

It’s Tuesday, it’s February, it’s my first day back at work after a week on vacation. I notice the candle in the foyer just as the whoosh of the door blows it out. They never did that for my birthday, I think as I walk past reception.

This is my job. It’s a publisher, we make coffee table books about movies, architecture, political issues that lend themselves to stock photography. Most of us think of ourselves as writers, though that is not really what we do anymore.

Dominic is the one who tells me. He and Naomi are here already, sitting at opposite desks, leaning in like they’re playing Battleship. Dominic bikes here from some distant suburb I’ve never heard of, then showers and changes into the same thing every day: pressed white shirt, pastel v-neck, khakis, loafers. I’ve never been here early enough to see what he’s wearing when he arrives.

“Hey there Mike,” he says. His Dutch accent sharpens the th’s into d’s. Hey der. He turns off his monitor and swivels toward me.

Naomi looks up, holding a mug dangling two teabag strings. She moved here three months ago from Australia, she still has that new-hire enthusiasm, the “let’s make great books!” gusto we’re all waiting to wear off.

“Well hello, Mike!” she says as I de-layer at my desk—hat, scarf, gloves—and turn my computer on.

She’s about to say something else, but Dominic gives a little traffic-cop hand wave and she stops.

“Mike don’t open your e-mails,” he says.

That’s when I notice that our office has a candle in it too.

“You need to know,” he says, trails off, starts again, “that Colin has passed away.”

“Colin in marketing?”

“Correct.”

Colin Schwartz. The guy at the back of the external-relations office, a sliver between two big iMac screens.

“Oh fuck,” I say. “How?”

Last Monday, Dominic says, Colin didn’t show up to work and didn’t call or e-mail to explain where he was. On Tuesday his boss told HR. On Thursday the office manager went to his apartment to see if he was home. No one answered her knock. She called the police. They forced open the door and found his body.

“Oh fuck,” I say again. “Was it like a heart attack or something?”

“Well, as you may know, Colin was depressed,” Dominic says. “He had some emotional problems. So it looks like…”

“Oh fuck,” I say. “Are you saying he killed himself?”

“Nothing’s clear right now.”

“They had a meeting yesterday and the MD told us,” Naomi says. “Everyone in marketing went home.”

I stare at my keyboard for a second, type in my password, open Outlook. There’s the official announcement from our president, the meeting cancellations, the invite from comms to record memories of Colin.

“OK Mike,” Dominic says, and swivels back to his desk.

“So, um,” Naomi says, “how was your vacation?”

The next thing that happens is we are terrible.

“I don’t want to say I saw it coming or anything, but it’s not exactly out of the blue,” says Bill, who runs our Twitter feed.

The roof of our building is the size of a soccer field, but we’re bunched together by the door, hoods up, facing away from the wind. Bill is the only one smoking out here, the rest of us are just listening.

“They were working him too hard,” says Will, one of the copy editors. “Marketing’s way understaffed.”

I barely knew Colin. He sat two offices down from me, but we never worked on anything together, never laid eyes on each other after 5 p.m. Our relationship consisted, in its entirety, of work-related small talk in the break room, his lunch rotating behind us in the microwave. Ding, stir, have a good rest of your day.

After Dominic told me, I spent an hour thinking things like, Was it something I did? Could I have reached out to him? Then I spent at least twice that long thinking, Of course not, asshole.

“I was on a conference call with Colin two weeks ago. He stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and just started breathing really loud,” Bill says.

I’ve been having conversations like this all over the building. It’s Wednesday, it’s right after lunch, it’s been two days since they announced Colin died. And this is how we’ve spent it: Bunched up in corners, whispering things to see if they are true.

Sarah from finance wonders if Colin’s death has anything to do with the department restructuring. Mark in HR heard Colin didn’t take a vacation for the last two years. Tina from photos heard Colin moved here to study at the London School of Economics, but dropped out.

None of these people knew Colin any better than I did. We’re just magnifying what we know, zooming in on the crumbs as if it will reveal where they lead.

“You know they changed his job title without consulting him.” Bill says, and the rest of us nod solemnly.

I wish I could say I was the grown-up here, the one who pointed out that none of us really knew Colin, that his death was none of our business, that we should all get back to work. But I wasn’t.

“He was gay,” I say. I only found this out yesterday, when Dominic mentioned Colin’s boyfriend had been notified. “Do you think that has anything to do with it?”

“The weird thing is, Colin never struck me as the unhappiest person here,” says Jessica, the receptionist. “I would have put Colin way down the list. Like, look at Chris in Online. That guy puts in earbuds when he walks to the bathroom.”

“I saw Lucy talking to the external relations director yesterday,” Will says. “I think she’s applying for his job.”

“Oh shit I hope it’s not her,” Bill says. “Remember that presentation she gave at the annual meeting last year?” I smirk along with everyone else. Bill lights another cigarette, giving us all permission to stay out here at least five more minutes.

The next thing that happens is we mourn.

It’s Thursday, it’s 10 a.m., it’s our weekly staff meeting. Colin’s picture is projected on the wall. The senior management team is sitting in suits at the big conference table, each with their own box of tissues.

I’m leaning against the wall. There’s only room in here for about 50 chairs, most of us are standing. Naomi is in sitting down next to me, she’s already crying.

The managing director starts talking, the only voice in the room. He tells us how this is going to work. For the last two days, comms has been recording employees talking about Colin, how they want to remember him. Today we’re going to watch the video.

“The speculation has to stop,” he says. “Colin died of natural causes.”

He nods over to the comms director, who hits play. The video begins with Colin’s work—excerpts of promos he made, books he launched, conference presentations he gave—then the rest is testimonials from his colleagues. They’re edited together in reverse hierarchical order.

Interns, then assistants, then peers, describe working with Colin. The time they bumped into him at the printer, the time his soup exploded in the microwave, the time they sat together on a bus from the airport to a conference, each with their headphones on.

Story after story, they’re all like this, proximity aspiring to intimacy, and it’s clear that no one here knew him, not the people in his department, not his managers, not the people he had lunch with and traveled with. They talk about his cluttered desk, his e-mail forwards, his cocktails at the Christmas party. They try to pull a person out of the time he spent here and they can’t.

“I always said hi to Colin when I passed him in the hall,” says someone on the video.

Naomi stops crying. She makes a little sound like she’s surprised, like she’s discovered the exact borders of her compassion. She takes a shallow breath, puts her purse on her lap, starts looking through it for tissues.

Colin’s boss is on vacation this week. He recorded a message by webcam. He’s lying on his side on a hotel bed. He talks about the clarity of Colin’s press releases as palm trees shudder in the wind behind him.

“I wish I had gotten to know him better,” he says. “He seemed nice.”

That comment, those three words, and I jerk my head away from the screen. I look out the window and there is a huge piece of bird shit on the windowsill. People on the screen keep talking, managers and directors now, but their memories of him are all the same hellos and bump-intos and chit-chats, and I realize this is it, this is what he left behind, his lunch and his e-mails and the clever thing he wrote on his boss’s birthday card. I close my eyes and the video goes on and on and then I open them and everyone around me is crying.

The last clip is the MD, chest heaving. He’s telling the camera, us, how Colin prepped him for his first TV interview.

“Don’t gesture so much,” Colin told him, “Gesturing looks awkward on TV. Emphasize with your words, not your hands.”

The MD did his interview, a whole hour, with his hands in his lap, as instructed. And afterwards he asked Colin, “how did I do?” and Colin said “You were like a statue up there! Why didn’t you use your hands?!”

And we all laugh, and the camera stays pointed at the MD, and his smile fades, his eyes go wet, he lets out a sob and the camera turns off and the screen shows Colin’s picture again.

The next thing that happens is it makes us close.

After the staff meeting, we shut the door to our office and Naomi asks me if I knew anyone else who died. I tell her about my godmother who got brain cancer when I was 12.

“Did you know her well?” she asks.

“In whatever way kids know adults, I guess. We spent a lot of time together when I was little. I mostly remember her mac and cheese.”

Then I ask Naomi and she tells me about the principal of her Catholic school who died in a car accident when she was seven. It was her first funeral, and she raised his hand in the middle of the eulogy to ask a question. As she’s telling it she lets herself smile a little, and I realize I never knew she went to Catholic school.

It’s like this the rest of the week. Maybe it’s because the MD asked us to stop speculating, or maybe everyone else saw the video like I did, felt the same urgency to populate this place, but we stop talking about Colin and we start talking about us.

On the roof, Bill tells me that his parents died when he was 22. He had just finished his first triathlon, and was so tired he fell asleep on the note his roommate had left on his bed. He woke up, pulled it out from under the covers and read it, still in his little running shorts.

In the break room, Jessica is hanging up a picture of Colin. She tells me that when she was 10 years old she accidentally took a big handful of children’s Tylenol because it was flavored and she thought it was candy.

“For years, my parents thought it was a suicide attempt,” she says, yanking out a strip of scotch tape.

On Friday Dominic and I walk to the train station together and he tells me about the cat he buried in his backyard when he was seven.

“I dug him up two years ago,’ he says, “and he was just a box of bones.’ He makes two fists, huge in his mittens, to show me his size.

The next thing that happens is it’s all over.

Monday morning, in the corridor past reception, I walk past marketing and hear someone say. “Did you see Jessica crying at the staff meeting? She barely even knew him.”

Dominic is already here, and I wonder if his khakis, his pianist posture, are the things I would say about him if he died.

“Did Naomi send the invite last week for the meeting with research?” he says.

“I don’t think so,” I say. “With everything happening last week, she must have forgotten.”

“Well if people are going to be here,” he says, “they might as well be working.”

It’s not that we forget, it’s just that we’re done remembering together. As the memorial fades from memory, as the tasks pile up and dwindle, as we all settle back into our boxes on the org chart, our dead colleague becomes just another thing we think about but don’t say.

The last time we talk about Colin at work is in a budget meeting. It’s March, it’s six weeks since Colin died, it’s me and Dominic in a conference room with Marketing, getting an overview of our spending before the quarterly board meeting.

“What’s this 40,000 that appeared in the budget in February?” Dominic asks.

“That’s Colin,” says Bill. Dead people don’t get salaries, so Colin’s appears as a surplus.

“OK,” Dominic says. “And why has this travel spending figure been adjusted?”

And that’s it, we just move through the rest of the budget. I think about looking up, making eye contact across the table, sharing an acknowledgement of the moment that just passed. Instead, I just keep my eyes on the Excel sheet, keep following the numbers with my pencil.

The last thing that happens is Naomi quits.

“I’m going back to my old job in Adelaide,” she says. It’s April, it’s Friday, it’s two months since Colin died. We’re sitting on the stoop of a church near work, holding paper coffee cups with two hands, watching rain drip from the awning.

“Why?” I ask.

“Do you remember Colin?” she says.

I tell her I barely knew him.

“Neither did I,” she says. “But do you remember the week after he died?”

We talk about the memorial, everyone crying, how we were with each other afterwards, how we’re not anymore.

“I keep making these pledges to get to know people here,” she says, “and then in the very next second I know that I’m not going to, that it’s too hard. At least back in Australia I have family waiting for me at the end of the day.”

I feel like we should hug now but we don’t. I stand up, take the empty coffee cup out of Naomi’s hand, throw it in the trash.

It’s later, it’s after Naomi left, it’s me and Dominic in the break room, his lunch rotating in the microwave. He’s looking at the picture of Colin posted on the wall.

“It’s too close to the microwave,” he says. “The steam is going to make it come down.”

As if agreeing, the microwave dings.

“Here,” he says.

He leans in, grabs it from the wall, moves it higher, sticks it back to the wall. “That’s better.”

He grabs his soup from the microwave, stirs it.

“OK Mike,” he says. “Have a good rest of your day.”

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104 Comments

Filed under Essays, London, Personal, Work

104 responses to “What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

  1. This is really excellent writing.

  2. Helen

    Thank you. Very touching. There’s quite a lesson in that story.

  3. Wow, that was really good.
    Terry

  4. Beautiful, beautiful piece. Really impressed.

  5. This reminded me of my first year at university. Two girls in our residence took their own lives by jumping off the roof of the building. I was struck at the tears shed and anecdotes told by students who barely knew them. Your piece conveys how acquaintances deal with unexpected death so accurately. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

  6. Very well expressed. I had a similar experience four years back and can readily relate to what you have gone through.

  7. Look, I don’t know squat about literature, but that -to me- was good writing.

    It’s funny how everyone was a great guy/gal once they die. Even the ones that were real jerks. I don’t “know” people where I work, nor do they “know” me. And I see nothing wrong with that. We just happen to work together. If not for that, we wouldn’t have chosen one another as friends to hang out with.

    Again, nice job with the writing!

  8. Very well written – such a stark reminder of the mundane and mediocre way in which most of us will pass from this world.

  9. Painful, good and very real writing.

  10. Wonderful composition: my mind whirled within the story, then sought its own orbit in my experiences with mortality.

  11. This was so compelling to me. Thanks for sharing it. I found myself understanding the girl from Australia and was happy you included her experience.

  12. Interesting story, thinking about how much I really know any of my colleagues and how I’d be affected if they died…or if they’d notice if I didn’t turn up to work…

  13. I have experienced this over and over again. Well said.

  14. Reblogged this on clubpenguin and commented:
    Wow

  15. It’s strange how death has it’s own scrips, like it is possible to grasp something as profound as death. The contrast of life in its mundane day to day tasks, with not being here anymore, is strong. I feel a bit sorry for colin. I Wonder what he would have done if he could live his life one more time, knowing his time was short.

  16. Really nicely done. Thank you.

  17. Beautiful description of what we have done in our world and to ourselves and our relationships. Sad.

  18. Really amazing piece of writing. I need to get to know some of my colleagues better.

  19. “It’s not that we forget, it’s just that we’re done remembering together. . . . our dead colleague becomes just another thing we think about but don’t say.”

    Stunning writing. Your accolades are richly deserved, Michael.

    The written word allows us all to remember. To remember Colin–even those of us who never met him–and to remember our own friends, family, co-workers who are gone from our sight, but never from our memories.

    Thank you for your words. ~ Christy

  20. I loved this. Your writing truly paints a picture. This helps place things in perspective. What goes on at work is mostly garbage. Coworkers pretend to care about each other, but it’s so superficial that it is worthless. Thanks for reminding me.

  21. The honesty has a pleasurable sting to it- in a way that, afterwards, I can’t help but to recall my own experience and question the accordance with my feelings and my actions; my thoughts and my words; what I wanted to do, and what I’ve actually done. Thank you for this, and for your blunt sincerity. Thanks for sharing.

  22. This really nice one. Great

  23. Amazing story. Great writing!

  24. Death is such a strange thing. And yet, how we process the knowledge of someone else’s death all depends on our first experience with it, and depends on how we were taught about it. Years ago, there used to be this thing called, ‘the Italian funeral” –an extremely emotional process both at the church and at the funeral home. As children, if we ever attended an “Italian” funeral (the ones from long ago), we were met with great screamings and wailings, etc, highly emotional stuff, for a child to see, to experience. Over time, we learn that, usually, our reactions at funerals are not so much the reaction of the person dying but the reaction of what we feel because we “miss” the person so much. If reality be told, the wailing is for us, more, and not so much for the person who died.

    Your story is interesting. When I walk away from a story wondering whether it is true or not , then to me, that’s a sign of a good story, whether or not it is true.

  25. Sad truth. We give so much of our lives to work where we have so little life connections and when it’s over we find we have no one to really remember us!! Moving piece!

  26. Outstanding writing. Just beautiful.

  27. That was beautiful: so genuine and human. It’s so true, how we go through life not really knowing much about the people we work with and when something happens we wish we had been closer, but it still doesn’t usually change anything.

  28. This exactly speaks about how are we transforming ourselves…
    A very nice heart touching writing… Nice work

  29. Reblogged this on ramblings and commented:
    Poignant. Unfortunately, a lot of us can relate. It does include some foul language just as a caveat.

  30. Well done. I’m sharing this with my coworkers as we have had similar experiences.

  31. Extraordinary read, very touching without being maudlin. You’re a fantastic writer.

  32. A really good story, it made me think. Congrats

  33. Excellent writing and brilliantly told. I’ll be here more often. Thanks for sharing.

  34. We all leave a small hole in the universe when we are gone. Then the hole closes over and we are just a faded memory and the world goes on. Nothing but time will heal the wound but there is a little scar always there.

  35. Reblogged this on M_Elayne and commented:
    This blogger was deservedly Freshly Pressed. Fabulous writing!

  36. Awesome writing. I hope someday I can pull emotion out like this. Good job and congrats on the Freshly Pressed. Well deserved.

  37. I think wherever you live, it is sad when your coworker dies!

  38. Great piece. Thank you for the reminder of what it feels like to connect with others and how easily it is to avoid that connection too.

  39. i will be afraid and confuse … If the situation like this …

  40. “proximity aspiring to intimacy, and it’s clear that no one here knew him, not the people in his department, not his managers, not the people he had lunch with and traveled with. They talk about his cluttered desk, his e-mail forwards, his cocktails at the Christmas party. They try to pull a person out of the time he spent here and they can’t.”

    This is so beautifully and honestly written. My husband has worked for more than 30 years for the same company, (a newspaper), and I often wonder, God forbid he dies before me, how many of those long-time colleagues and co-workers would come to his funeral and help me cope. I hope quite a few, but I would not count on it either.

    I found your post sad. I wonder how many of us ever really know much about the people we work with. Too much intimacy makes it impossible, yet too little makes it cold and mechanical. Now I work alone at home. That solves one issue.

  41. Reminds us that we are all we have. Asking myself what I would be remembered by.

  42. This is so eloquently written.

  43. orthodoxchristian2

    It’s sad when anyone you know dies! A guy I once knew died in a car crash! His parents were devastated. His mother had to take medication to not have a heart attack, literally. We have to learn to be more careful when we drive. So many deaths have happened on the road. Great piece, by the way!

  44. Outstanding and well written. Grief and mourning are strange friends that manifest themselves in unique ways…

  45. Great writing, much to take from this…

  46. As a manager I am torn between getting to know my employees too well and not well enough. I don’t want to co-mingle personal knowledge or opinions with making professional judgments or decisions in the workplace. My boss does that. Promotes or supports those she personally likes even if someone else has stronger technical or professional skills, which really bothers me. It’s a double-edged sword. This story made me cry.

  47. It should give us all a thought, in how far we are happy with the environment, we do live in. On the other hand: What can thoughts change anyway?
    Proper written down thought-provoking-impulse. Would appreciate more of those. We all should!

  48. “Proximity aspiring to intamacy” such a beautiful way to capture the moment. Excellent!

  49. Wonderfully written, you drew me in and kept me hooked.

  50. Amazing writing. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, this is absolutely deserving.

  51. Very well written! Thought provoking.

  52. Excellent writing.. great post..

  53. Ahhhh. “Have a good rest of your day.” What a poignant ending. I find it funny (sadistically funny) how we all make promises to ourselves to change especially in the face of tragedies yet within the coming weeks we seem to forget and instead go back to our old ways.

  54. DK

    Nicely written. Sad and beautiful at the same time.

  55. Reblogged this on arthurmivule97 and commented:
    I don’t know really how I would feel. So sad!

  56. The rate of my heart beat would probably increases.

  57. Beautiful piece, thank you. It’s weird how death brings near strangers together momentarily. In France November 2nd is the ‘feast of the dead’, it sounds morbid but creates family reunions almost like Thanksgiving or Christmas. In this way their loved ones are never forgotten.

  58. I must say – “You’re a damn good observer”

  59. Extremely well written and powerful.

  60. It is so true, you can work right beside someone for months, years but never really have more than a polite conversation with them, but then they pass and suddenly you are so sad, so desperate for their conversation, to know more about them and feeling like you should have done something more. When I was a trainee, one of my two Managers passed of a heart attack and stroke. He was a very interesting man, a very intelligent man, he was always in the lunch room for morning tea and lunch time and often would tell me to come along for morning tea break. I sat right beside him, typed up his dictated bat cave tours. Wrote his correspondence to customers. It was very shallow conversations we had. But the day he passed was so weird. I’d gotten in late due a flat tire. Everything was just so quiet in the office. Then my colleague told me John had passed and my other Manager Liz was too distraught and wouldn’t be in for the week. A memorial book we were going to give to his family along with donations came round and I felt compelled to write something but it was rubbish what I ended up putting in. His funeral stuck with me though, they played an acoustic version of Copperhead Road and now that song reminds me of him. But as you said, it was all over in a few short weeks, we all got on with life and talked less and less about John, how we should have helped him, how he had predicted his own passing as his father had gone in a similar way about the same age. Some of us went on health kicks for a bit but that passed too. Life just goes on silently and although we make pledges, ultimately own our mortality and the need to protect ourselves so that others don’t find out how selfish, pointless or disappointing we are, takes over and we do nothing but the status quo.

  61. A very well written piece, sad when news of any kind like this occurs, especially with co-workers. I lost a co-worker back in August this year, we worked on a project for 9 months, had become good friends and I only exchanged emails with him on a Friday, only to find out on the Monday he had “kicked the bucket”. It was a weird feeling as I was the last to find out that Monday…the whole week was a killer, our client was somewhat sympathetic and but wanted to know quickly whether we could ship in a replacement that met his skill-set – corporate worlds forget quickly…

  62. Naomi had an excellent point <3

  63. This was fantastic. Congrats on the FP

  64. dshah96

    I was eleven or twelve years old. It was the day of the funeral. Some were silently crying (mostly close family relatives). Others, though, were sobbing hysterically. Their sound echoed throughout the room. They didn’t even know her. They were crying because they were expected to. I felt it was an insult to the deceased.
    http://mybeautifullife96.wordpress.com

  65. i can relate to this. i have a classmate, she is really quiet and painfully shy..i don’t think she has any friends either. no one in class interacts with her.sometimes i think i should get to know her better so i start up a conversation but after a few days its just a casual “hello, how are you doing?” and thats it..reading this makes me want to try talking to her again.

  66. I’m a student and this happen to me from time to time. I have some friends at campus and go out together very often but sometime I feel a bit lonely and not very supportive. Your writing really touches me. Sorry for my bad English

  67. Great writing; a colleague died a few years ago, and his emails about clearing rotting food from the fridge, and other mundanities, were left hauntingly in our in-boxes.

  68. Loved it. You know, something similar happened to our office too. Glad you wrote about your experience.
    Best,
    ofglassandbooks

  69. Gorgeous piece, beautiful writing. Thank you.

  70. Janet Hassall

    Loved it, reminded me of a book I will never forget “Then We Came to the End” by Joshua Ferris. You’re not JF by any chance are you? Same mix of funny and sad and very human.

  71. The sad truth right there…..

  72. Brilliant writing. Thank you.

  73. very well expressed…..The spaces between US is widening.We meet people daily ,frequently still don’t know them….too engrossed with ourselves…is it so…..when something like this occur this hollowness gapes at us.

  74. Powerful piece. It highlights for me how completely lost we are in the face of death.

  75. This is deeply moving. I like your terse, unadorned narrative style. Thank you for the story.

  76. This was deeply moving. Thank you.

  77. Thank you for sharing that. Anyone who has gone through something similar can relate. We are all so different, yet so much alike.

  78. Thanks for sharing…I had a friend/co-worker who completed suicide. I was shocked and sad even though I knew of her pain and diagnosis of manic-depression. Our team did become closer, her death was such a tragedy, such a loss to us all. I think we have tried to value each other more since then. Sometimes it is the little things that count the most.

  79. Wow. I really liked your writing! I notice the exact same things happen in my workeplace. Its a if the world of business requires us to be empathetic for morale in the work place, but not for too long. Because its not productive. Its a shame that in work you sometimes get so caught up in the job you dont find the time to get to know the people youre with for the most of your week. We see our work colleagues more than our friends sometimes. But to get the work done efficiently you cant have people chatting all the time. And its as if there is this unspoken knowledge everyone has that there is something wrong with society. And this is being demonstrated in the work place when someone dies. We are so disconnected with life and more focused on tasks for an income to pay your bills. The ones that arent willing to just accept this fact are the ones affected the worse. They become stressed, filled with anxiety and worries. Life becomes hard, they see through the fakeness of professional life.This is good for their health. Now the big problem is… everyone deep down knows this way of living is wrong. The nature of the problem is that the affects take a long time to kick in. What this means is that our ego’stell us it wont happen to us. But if you look at the growing problems with health in the western world you will see that its not just something that happens to other people, if you’re playing the same game then you win the same prizes, the only thing that varies is tge timescales.

  80. Thanks for writing this piece, it was really insightful

  81. Very nice. Love the writing. Love the point.

  82. Wonderful writing. The steps through the grieving process are so familiar and spot-on.

  83. Thought provoking article. Thanks for sharing it here.

  84. Beautiful paited picture of reality :)

  85. Reminds me how we’re all just passing through this life. So well written. Thank you.

  86. When a coworker passes away a weird buzz and feeling hits the office. I remember one of my coworkers lost two teammates within a matter of months and it really hurt the spirit of his team.

    One of his teammates was extremely popular in the office and well liked. He was young and full of ideas and always spoke up in meetings; however he committed suicide.

    That death was unexpected by most in the office; however the times that I would greet hom( I saw something different in him as if something was bothering him and he could not find an outlet for it.

    It appeared that for him, work was his outlet as he was a high performer as well. He also had many friends at work and everyone saw him as an extremely nice person.

  87. I love your observational descriptions, they really paint a picture without waffling on. A great lesson in a story so wonderfully written which, is also a lesson. Thank you.

  88. The image of the microwave…it used to be the water cooler or the copy machine. This is the center of the work universe, where we pause to chat..briefly…it gives us a false sense that we know each other…we chat frequently.

    I too experienced this last year. Luckily we knew Steven. He did keep much from us. But it really bothered us, those that didn’t know him, but yet seemed so devastated. Or those that sang his praises in Eulogy, yet didn’t seem to support him at work.

    Crazy stuff death is. Crazy our world today where we all know, yet don’t know each other.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  89. Great post. It made me grateful that I work in a small office where we all know each other well.
    One of my favorite co-workers died from complications following a routine surgery a few years ago. I had been on vacation at the time, and was eager to talk with him upon my return, only to learn the terrible news.
    To this day, I am reluctant to remove his contact info from my cell phone, wishing I could talk to him one more time.

  90. I also experienced this years ago having a co-worker die. I felt bad about it but since I literally don’t know the person, everything remained the same. I guess, knowing someone can really change things.

  91. aqilaqamar

    You got my attention so fast how can you say you are not a writer. You have written so beautifully. You should write memoirs and call it Coffee Table Writings or even some fiction included

  92. Beautiful and true. Well done.

  93. Beautifully written and profoundly sad- outstanding!

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