Interpersonal Edge: Dealing with Covid and Grief and Loss

Dr. Daneen Skube, executive coach and therapist, discusses dealing with Covid, grief, and loss, including from a work perspective. Plus, how to deal with a co-worker who is only looking out for their own interests.


Q: No one I’m close to has died, but this pandemic has caused me so many losses at work and in life. I’m still scared about getting sick, I’m still not able to go to my office, and so many work projects are on hold. How do you counsel your clients to manage all these losses caused by the pandemic and still be productive?

A: The way you can manage all the losses caused by Covid and still be industrious is to make peace with the reality of grief. Loss of expectations, people, and goals is an unavoidable part of the human experience at work and in life.

The stark experience of this pandemic means many of us feel like we’re walking down a street littered with broken dreams. In ordinary times we may be able to pretend we can avoid loss, but not these days.

The older we become, the more our lives both surprise and disappoint us. We may think we can predict what is around the next corner, but what will happen tomorrow, as this pandemic proves, is hard to anticipate.

There’s a superb movie on loss starring the actor, Will Smith, titled, “Collateral Beauty.” In the movie, Smith plays a father who has lost his 6-year old daughter. Smith starts to write letters to big ideas like Death, Love and Time. The movie charts a storyline where these concepts personally visit him to discuss their relationship with loss.

At the end of the movie, it’s clear that our human challenge about grief is to focus our attention on the rich opportunities that still remain in the wake of loss. The idea of “collateral beauty” is that no loss sucks all the good out of lives. We are, however, challenged to expand our vision during grief beyond the thing that is gone that we cannot change.

Dealing with Covid and grief and loss

By all means take the time to acknowledge and feel your sadness, disappointment, or even outrage at what you lost during this pandemic. Just don’t forget to notice that there is still a great wide world out there with goodies for you to experience.

I think the reason people over 100 fascinate us is we know they have experienced losses. The question many of us have for old people is, “How can you be at peace and content when your life contains tragedies?” When we study this question, we discover people over 100 are not happy because they have had no losses but because of how they adapted to heartbreak.


Change work expectations to be happier


Charles Darwin, the evolutionary scientist, first observed that a species must either adapt or die. What I see as both a corporate consultant and mental health counselor is many people that experience loss may not physically die but are tempted to stop engaging in life.

We’re each capable of both grief and resiliency in the face of loss. Those of us that work to realize loss does not define us nor limit our remaining opportunities will let go of what we cannot change and celebrate what remains both at work and in life.

The last word(s)

Q: One of my co-workers is always only interested in what benefits him. He is not a team player and acts in ways that undermine the profitability of our team but reward him. Is there a best way to confront him?

A: No, focus on doing your own good work and realize that people like your co-worker always create the conditions for their own downfall. Get out of the way and let him experience the consequences of his poor choices.


Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.

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