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When your work family experiences the worst

Two weeks ago, my former association lost a long time employee after a rather short illness. He was just 57. He was very highly respected amongst his professional colleagues (of both political parties), his former colleagues, his high school friends, and pretty much anyone else who interacted with him. He was a social guy with a warm personality and made friends easily.

Most importantly, the younger staff looked to him as a mentor. There was no formal mentoring program in the office, but people gravitated towards him for advice, both professional and personal. He taught us how to dress like grown ups, how to navigate through legislation, and how to command respect from our elder colleagues and association members.

I never worked directly for him, but I knew him for 11 years, including 6 months as an intern and 9 years as a full time staffer, and I turned to him for advice countless times. Not being in the office anymore made me feel disconnected during his illness and the day of his passing, but the upbeat “Celebration of Life” that was held in his honor last week was a very comforting way for his work family to remember him.

This summer there have been several discussions about the work family and mentors on GovLoop. What happens when you lose a “work family” member? Have you ever worked in an office where this happened?

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Carol Davison

My work friend’s son was murdered about 4 years ago. Even worse, she suspects that it may have been a hate crime. Today I saw her still looking so, so sad that I took her in my arms and prayed with her, and suggested some things she could do to feel better.

Emily Landsman

Carol, thanks for sharing. That sounds like a tough situation. I’m sure she appreciates having support from many different places as time goes on.