Monday, September 20, 2010

Initiation by Fire

fire poi perfect circle

First day on the job, and I was scheduled to participate in three days of training. The first thing we are asked to do is go around the room, and introduce ourselves. As a getting to know you exercise we are to say three things about ourselves, two that are true, and one that is untrue. It was kind of fun. The group as a whole was a little slow to warm to the exercise, as was I, but my new direct supervisor says, "well, Dan, how about you?

Suddenly I had to think quick. Of course the first thing that came to mind was that I was a widower. I wish this wasn't the first thing always on my mind, but unfortunately that is where I am at. Rather than share too much information right off the bat, I decided to share that I was the father of three, recently retired, and a pilot. Which two did the group think was untrue? The first thing offered was that perhaps I don't really have three kids. The next was that I am not retired. Well, sorry folks, both of those are true. It's funny how we have perceptions of people just on the basis of first impressions.

So, now that we all know each other, let's start with today's topic. Any guesses?

Grief and loss.

First there was a panel of fellow employees, who discussed their family members who have a developmental disability. They spoke of the issues of how much having a child with a disability impacts your life. They talked about how you must deal with the loss of life's expectations, and how your life becomes impacted by your special needs child in many ongoing ways. We then segued to a video of a psychologist speaking to a group of parents who have children with various disabilities. The focus of the video was about the grieving process that goes on when you find out your child has disabilities. It talked about the various stages of grief, and how similar this experience is to someone who has suffered the loss of a family member to death.

Talk about a first day of work with topics hitting far too close for comfort. I must say, I sat there a bit stunned. The video was excellent, and hit on so many issues that I face each day with the death of Michael, and the loss of hopes and dreams for my children, who seem to be challenged more and more as they get older. I considered getting up in the middle of the video, which lasted an hour, and take a walk. I felt like I needed a breather, but instead I stuck it out.

Today simply served as a reminder that I need to always feel ready to face these issues of grief in loss in a very public way. Fortunately I feel strong enough to do that. And, fortunately I am in an environment where people have limited information about me. I can choose what to disclose each time I begin to feel vulnerable.


  1. Talk about a first day of work with topics hitting far too close for comfort.

    Sheesh, I'll say! Glad you were able to manage okay though. Interesting exercise with the three questions. Funny that they believed the untrue statement over the true statements!

  2. Funny - when I started the Aspire program last year, we played the same little game . . . I too decided to leave the 'widow' part out of it, though I was pretty sure no one would have guessed that .. . . .

    Congrats on making it through day 1!

  3. Dan, this post shows just how strong you are. Whew - it took my breath away and left a huge lump in my throat just to read about it. Talk about initiation by fire!