Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Grieving at my own funeral

The last two days have been the longest year of my life. The phone has been ringing regularly with people in shock, and my in-box is filling up. I'm still stunned, and feel sick constantly. Mrs T is in a similar state, but thank goodness we have each other. Coming home to an empty house, or sitting here just with a well-stocked booze cabinet and wine rack for company would not be helpful.

I think my ex-colleagues feel like they've been bereaved. One said to me "you're like my second dad" and a lot of them need comforting. Another said "I’d of said something more meaningful than Good Morning if I’d known it’d be the last time I saw you" which is almost the sort of thing you write in books of condolence. I'm almost like a bereavement counsellor at my own funeral. I didn't realise how much I loved them all until I had to go through this. I was never a great people manager, but I believe that inside eveyone has potential and everyone is good hearted (bit pinko liberal for someone in Banking, I know) and tried to get people in the right roles and get them to develop themselves. What's making this hard is that I was and am really close to my team. They weren't just droids in a factory. They're people with real lives, cares and worries. I want to be there to help them through this difficult time as more cuts and changes are made, but I'm like a ghost. I can see and hear but I can't speak or touch anything.

Then there's the phone calls with friends and colleagues who left the business a few years ago, - all offering support and a chance to blow off steam about how unjust it all is. And the imagined phone call when they tell you it's all been a terrible mistake, here's your job back and a big cheque for all the distress we caused you.

I've got a fair few of the "it's happened to me, - best thing ever" e-mails and comments. I hope it's true. I can see chinks of light, but nothing that is shining on the path forward.

I graduated in 1982 in Sheffield, the Rome of the North. I graduated into a dreadful recession although in many ways a more benign society. 12 months I was unemployed, sustained by friends (notably Pete Berry, now of Baccus) who kept me going and helped me develop a routine. I was supported then by what seemed a generous welfare package to a 21 year old who was trying to be independent and live in his own bedsit. The current Mrs T and I were engaged at the time, but she was living back at home with her father in the midlands. I had few worries, and few responsibilities. I had little to lose. Even so it was deeply depressing not to be wanted. That pales into insignificance to how I feel now.

I know I'm more experienced now, and have better contacts and skills, but nothing really tops the power of ignorance. When you're young and you don't know what you don't know you believe you can do anything. I certainly did, and when I finally got a job with the then Anglia Building Society I proved it.

When I get myself sorted I'll write up how it all happened properly. It'll be a story both amusing and shocking and if I was looking at it from outside of myself I'd find much to laugh about. I've already had one phone conversation with an old boss that was a brilliant mix of outrage and laugh out loud funny.

Not much about wargaming in this one, except to say my Xyston Ramesses dropped through the letter box this morning. He looks a lot better than the painted one on the website, and as a 28mm figure he of course measures up as 35mm top to toe. Who said anything about scale creep.

I realise I should take time off, get my head together, and paint some toy soldiers. Bit difficult to focus on that now, - another thing I'm enormously resentful off, - they seem to have taken away from me what I use to relax at the very time I need it.


  1. What you are feeling is perfectly natural ... and normal. It is similar to the way I felt when it happened to me.

    In my case I got enough warning to be able to plan what to do next ... and that gave me something to cling on to and to work towards. The important things I found were to try to maintain a regular routine and to find a new wargaming project to plan for. In my case it was to design a number of paper soldiers ... which were cheap (I was worried about my cash-flow) and easy to make (paper soldiers come 'ready painted' when they come out of the inkjet printer). I kept them - but never used them - until recently, although now I am not working I am considering revisiting them.

    I know of an employment lawyer who might be able to give you advice about what you should be entitled to in terms of redundancy. If you want me to, I will ask them if they could call you to give you some advice.

    One thing that is important to remember ... it was your job that became redundantly, not you, and that it is not a judgement on your abilities or you as a person that caused the redundancy.

    All the best,


  2. I have an employment lawyer. His initials are AK.....

    Thanks for the nudge.

    1. Excellent! AK will give good advice and support.


  3. Keep smiling - I find it helps. It will soon come good I'm sure.

  4. Sorry to hear of your troubles , good luck

  5. BTW If anyone really wants to help in a practical sense, click on all my adverts every time you visit. That's my wargaming fund for the next year!

  6. Wargaming therapy next Monday at Ian's. Eastern Front. Not Moscow :O)

  7. I found your link between redundancy and bereavement very telling. I was sent to see an "out placement counsellor " last time around. I had no high hopes, but at the end of the first session she asked me how I was doing. I said fine - could I go now. She replied - and this haunted me at the time " you haven't looked me in the eye once in the last hour, you can't go until we make eye contact". And that did it - I regret to say I wept. She then took me through the "bereavement curve" - a diagram I'm sure you will have seen before. In essence she rightly identified that my sense of loss and despair was exactly the same as bereavement because I was grieving for the loss of my job, role, definition etc. The other big lesson was "time". I didn't get through it quickly, I needed time to gain perpsective and understanding - and it turns out, that means I'm normal! I've found your posts on this very affecting and relevant and I admire your honesty and wish you well. Ken

  8. Ken, - I have outplacemnt coming at some point. Thanks for this comment. I realise I can't hide from this, but it really tempting to do so. Mrs T & I have been in tears a few times over the past few days, - particularly when I was sorting out what I'd swept off my desk and picked up the pictures of our two brilliant, lovely, talented children.


  9. I think you are facing it much more directly than I did. I found the outplacement useful to persuade me to accept what had happened, and quite an interesting way to fill otherwise empty days. My main success however was to network like crazy - despite what you think - it can be astonishing just how many people that you know are not aware that you are on the market and available, even more astonishing that many of them then network on your behalf. That worked for me, much to my surprise, and I was eternally grateful to have been given that tip by a former colleague. So one good way to fill the days is to trawl your list of "everyone you've ever known and liked" - and set them trawling opportunities on your behalf - its amazing how pleased people are to do this - and the results can sometimes be a very warm introduction to a potential new opportunity. Ken