The Magic of a Team in a Time of Grief
There is little that lights up Emily’s eyes more than when she talks about the benefits she can provide to her employees; VISIONALITY provides time off for voting, is a permanent remote working environment, and encourages its employees to get out of the office and take mental health days. However, she has a tough time using these benefits herself. When she lost her longtime best friend, her dog Scooter, in September, she saw the benefits firsthand. If you have ever lost a pet, you know how excruciating that pain can be. Emily is strong and can “push through the pain” when she needs to, but with her team behind her, she was able to take some time to herself. We regularly talk about the benefits of being a team versus a one-person operation; that week we saw it directly. The following piece has been on Emily’s mind for the last few months as she has been working through her grief. Our team worked together to create a space in which she could be vulnerable and raw, and I think that comes out beautifully.
In four hours, he was dead. My beloved baby Scooter boy woke up silly and woofey at 7am, I carried him to the car at 11am, and he passed away at 3pm. It was impossible. We did agility training last Sunday and went on a hike just a few days ago. He had been slowing down, but that’s expected for a big dog nearing his 10th birthday. We had started looking into arthritis treatments, we lowered the jumps in agility, and I got doggy stairs for the bed and car.
His lungs looked like spider webs. After stabilizing him, the emergency vet did a chest Xray; He had cancer that had metastasized in his lungs. We had no idea.
That Saturday my whole world turned inside out. I lost the guy who helped me feel safe at night; who snuggled with me when I was sick; who’s woo-woo-wooooos interrupted my meetings and kept me laughing.
For the first time since starting VISIONALITY in 2011, I had to take an emergency leave of absence. I’ve always been able to keep showing up – through a divorce, the death of friends, family challenges, natural and man-made disasters, the list goes on. But this time I could not keep going. My heart was broken, empty and lonely. I had lost the cornerstone of my daily activities. I was missing my constant friend.
As a leader, I see my role as a hype-woman of good people and good ideas, a problem solver, and most importantly: the guardian of my team.
After sharing what happened, my team became my guardians. In the week I took off to grieve the loss of my Scootey Bootey, they handled everything. With some internal shuffling and regular communication, they supported one another to keep client work moving along. They made big decisions for our company, relying on our shared VISIONALITY values for guidance. They sent flowers and dropped off food. And biggest of all – they created safety so that I could grieve.
That whole “words cannot express” platitude keeps plaguing my mind as I write this. So, let’s just wrap this up: Creating safety for our team is my magical place in the universe. And receiving that same magic back from them … well … has left me speechless.