Unattended Wounds Keep Us Lost in Grief

In this pandemic era with revenues and earnings disappearing practically overnight and lives being dramatically changed as we’ve found ourselves in various stages of isolation, relationships are the new currency.

If nothing else, being in a shelter at home status has taught us the value and importance of relationships.

Humans aren’t designed to be isolated from others and it’s our connection to other people that is our lifeline right now.

Recognizing this, I’ve been investing a lot in my current relationships and using the time that was allocated to working with lost clients to develop new ones.

On Friday, I had a call with another woman business owner. We were catching up on how we’ve been handling the situation, how business was going, and how we could support each other.

She’d asked if I’d read this article called The Pandemic is a Portal, which I hadn’t. It has certainly felt like we’ve jumped into a portal of Groundhog’s Day, that’s for sure. The basic concept, as she described it, was that the previous world we were living in is gone, leaving a new world. The author of the article posed the question of what do we want to carry forward into this new world?

We talked about that for a bit and then she shared some ideas and visions for my business based on what she’s seeing in her’s. Her business supports mental health in a more personalized and hands-on way than traditional EAP programs and is becoming a hot new employee benefits trend.

She’s seeing an uptick of grief in people, which is to be expected. What’s surprising is that the current grief is ripping off the scabs of old wounds.

Previous grievances that were never properly acknowledged and handled are now rising to the surface and it’s getting in the way of progress today.

We had a deep discussion about how people needed some sort of grief ritual so they could lay down what’s weighing them down, so they didn’t have to carry that burden through the portal and across the threshold of this new world that is emerging.

Within the next few hours, my client emailed me about how there are some employee relations issues popping up related to past issues that she’d like to discuss during our next session. By the time we had our next session, even more old issues were rising to the surface.

As a female engineer in the male-dominated field of construction, my client possesses the necessary leadership skills that many women leaders demonstrate. Such as the ability to connect, show care and compassion freely, and take action to protect their people. She also recognizes that as an engineer, she doesn’t possess the necessary people-skills to grow her business to the next level and make the culture shift needed on her own. That’s where my expertise comes in.

As a business owner, people leader, human resources professional, professional leadership coach, and spiritual leader, I have the training and experience on how to meet another human heart-to-heart to have a really hard conversation and create positive outcomes.

When addressing issues of the past that are haunting you today, keep a few things in mind.

1. Take action.

If you want to make sure that you are leaving behind old baggage as you are crossing the threshold of the pandemic portal, you must take action. When we fail to take action, grievances pile up and grow. Taking swift action is the way of the successful post-pandemic leader.

2. Make sure the employee with the grievance feels heard.

This is when your leadership requires full presence, ability to connect, and probe under the surface from curiosity rather than criticism. Status quo leadership skips this part in an effort to move quickly into the “fix it mode” of problem-solving.

3. Apologize as needed.

A well-done apology can be the exact medicine that wounds need to heal and allow the person to move forward without continuing to drag the past around with them.

4. Establish what changed behavior is needed by all parties involved.

The reality is that usually, multiple people contributed to the situation, even if the bulk of the burden fell to just one person. Get agreement from everyone involved to commit to the new actions or behaviors.

5. Hold the line of greatness through holding yourself and your team accountable to agreements.

All of the other hard work that you went through will backfire if you fail to actually create the change you committed to. Without a culture of accountability that is consistently held by everyone, you are doomed to bring those old wounded ghosts through the portal, leaving yourself exposed to future flare-ups.

After you’ve done the work above, it's time to contemplate holding a ceremony to mark the transition of crossing the threshold of the portal, into a conscious new world.

While ceremony isn’t common in the business world or workplace, it holds great significance in other parts of our personal lives. Many of those ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, graduations, etc., are unable to be performed right now which is leaving a part of ourselves unnourished and unfulfilled.

There are various kinds of ceremonies that can be held in a work context, but right now the ones that honor grief and allow for a graceful letting go are the ones that are most needed.

This is perfect for organizations where old grievances are popping up again, who are working on the front lines, who have experienced layoffs/reduction in force or have had to close altogether.

Ceremony done well can be potent medicine, and we certainly need a dose of good medicine right now.

It allows us to come together for a single purpose, have a unique but shared experience that creates and strengthens bonds that we have with each other. This creates the kind of intimacy and emotional safety that is needed to have these difficult conversations regularly which builds a thriving culture and profits alike.

Ceremonies also serve as a turning point, a physical experience of the concept of moving from one phase to the next. It serves the mind, body, and spirit which then makes the transition more real and concrete.

At the end of the day, ceremony is a tool for connection and community building. At the heart of any high performing team lies a strong connection.


If you are curious about exploring the possibility of holding a ceremony for your team or organization, let’s talk.

In service to your greatness,

~ Aubrey


Aubrey Armes is a woman on a mission: To change how business is done.

Passionate about doing business differently, Aubrey brings her 20 years of Leadership, Human Resources, and Professional Coaching experience to the modern business leader.

She's giving leadership teams the right tools and teaching them "how to" elicit high performance, from their teams and themselves. Aubrey takes the disengaged and mediocre, and transforms them in to energized, high-performing, collaborative teams. Her approach helps leaders and teams achieve radical results through compassionate accountability and create company cultures where everyone can thrive.



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