When I first started my (temporary) job last Tuesday (after Labor Day), the first thing I did was to explore the office complex during my 1-hour lunch period. When I began my lunch at their somewhat loaded lunch room, I checked out their “Fun Stuff” bulletin board to see all the random posts that were displayed there. The first post that really took notice there was a short yet heartfelt thank you and farewell note from a former employee, dated March of 2012. This employee was diagnosed with lung cancer and her co-workers raised some money to pay for her medical expenses, and of course, for her family. The note was written (more like typed and manually signed) as a thank you for her co-workers for the money and for their well-wishes and she hoped that she would be able to battle against this deadly disease that have been killing thousands of people around the world.
Then two days ago (from the date this blog entry was written), I was back to my usual lunching at their lunchroom when I noticed another flyer posted slightly below that note. The top headline of the flyer had the name of a funeral home and underneath was the main headline of “Memorial Service” for that same former employee who wrote that note, dated tomorrow (9/14). Just gazing at it really touched me, and of course, really made me shed a few tears. I never met that employee, but even so, had I known that person, this would be my third experience having a death among my co-workers whom I have worked with.
I’ve experienced most types of deaths now: death of family members, death of classmates back in school (the ones I actually met and got to know), and eventually, fresh from college, death of co-workers (the ones who I’ve met and actually worked with). Those co-workers who I’ve known were quite close to me, not just as co-workers, but friends outside the workplace. And what really frustrated me a bit back then was that their deaths were sudden. The first one who passed away simply just passed away without any signs at all. It was reported that he took a week off for a much-needed vacation, only to learn that he had aneurysm and died in his sleep just two days before he was to report back to work again. Unexpected at all, it was as if he never said goodbye and just “ditched” us, so to speak. The second co-worker was in a way, expected. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer for many years now and had been on and off of the hospital. Even though her time was pretty much expected, the unexpected was that it was way too soon. According to another co-worker close to her, she was already healthy enough and will be discharged the next day. Sadly, overnight, she passed away.
When the news of the co-workers came, the company I worked for (my first real job that is) did have their own policies regarding coping with death of a co-worker. Our manager had a meeting for our department and it was more of a counseling-type of meeting, sharing our memories and thoughts about the said co-worker, and all of that. I had a chance to pay my respects for both of those co-workers and to say my final goodbyes, but never attended their funerals.1
Here’s just a short reflection blog entry that I decided to write and simply reflect. Now I’m praying for the spirit of that late former employee. May she rest in peace, just like my two former co-workers who died before her.
- that’s because of the location. I live in the East Bay and they live in the Peninsula or even downtown San Francisco [↩]