We hear about it all the time – factories closing and the employees losing their jobs, corporations down-sizing and many employees let go while others remain. We hear about contracts lost and groups exiting while a new group with a new contract moves in. I must say I’ve never truly experienced any of that… until recently.

A group of people I have worked with for over 25 years, lost their contract with our employer and a new group will be taking their place. They’d been there for over 40 years. It was like we had a dance with them that we all grew to know very well. Some happy dances, others chaotic dances but we always found our groove.

On their last day, as if it were the last song and we’d have one last dance of the night before we parted ways, as we arrived with saddened hearts, we were dealt with the major sorrow of a team mate taking his life the previous night. Oh, the gut-wrenching sorrow we felt upon sorrow. No words adequately express the deep pain we experienced that day. We solemnly continued through the motions of our work that day, we hugged, we cried, and we said our good-byes.

The sadness I felt that night was a grief I hardly ever recall experiencing to that extent. I can’t even imagine what those who were leaving must have felt. I sobbed. I mourned the loss of that team mate, I mourned for his loved ones, his fiancé, the lost potential of an amazing man.

I grieved the departing of a team of people I trusted. I mean, we knew how to work with each other. It wasn’t always pretty, it was frequently grueling, but we’d figure it out together. We had each other’s backs. We knew the dance.

Our kids basically grew up together in our conversations. Though I never met any of them, I felt like I knew them. We shared pregnancies together, births, milestones in our children’s lives, their accomplishments, scholarships, and graduations. We shared training strategies for races, health issues, and rejoiced with races triumphantly completed, births of grandkids, and engagements. We encouraged each other through separations, divorces and loss of loved ones. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve worked at a place for a substantial amount of time. We did life together at work.

How would I ever get beyond this deep grief? When my husband arrived home that night, I sobbed in his arms telling him of my great sadness. In all his wisdom he held me tight and told me to be sad as long as I needed to, and he would be there for me. I found his words immediately profound. As long as I needed to? Who needs to be sad? All I truly wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position and sob myself into oblivion, but I didn’t like that feeling. Besides, what would that achieve?

I felt the Lord calling me to Himself. I told Bill to give me a minute as I needed to go upstairs sob hysterically and be done with it. And that’s what I did. I knelt by my bed, wailed pathetically and told the Lord I was done with this sadness. He could take this sorrow and do with it whatever He does to make sorrow disappear.

Though we were all essentially walking into a great unknown at work and those who left were indeed walking into the great unknown, nothing is unknown to the Lord. I believe everything filters through His loving hands and He can turn ashes into beauty, bad into good, sorrow into rejoicing. I don’t know how He does it, but it is scriptural, and I believe it. I know He has plans for the good for those who believe so I began praising the Lord for anything I could think of for which to praise Him. I praised Him for the opportunity to know that group, for my great remaining co-workers, for great managers, for health, for a God who can lift our sorrows, who understands our pain. For a God who flings doors wide open when other doors shut.

I whispered a prayer for the departing members, that their health would be restored, their marriages revived, their relationships strengthened. I prayed for stability in the families that would be uprooted, for their children to adapt to their new homes, for all to find jobs, that they’d enjoy a bit more freedom in their lives. I prayed that God would bless each of them in their endeavors. I prayed, too that God would be with those of us remaining, that He would strengthen our group even more, that He’d bless the new team members and that we would welcome them as we should.

I somehow felt restored, cleansed and my sadness lifted. I left it all in His hands and trusted it to His loving care. I truly didn’t know what else to do. I blew my nose, returned downstairs and thanked my husband for his words of encouragement.

Oh, how we’ll miss the departing team and our beloved friend who is no longer with us. Our lives have been profoundly touched and enriched by each of them. We’ll always remember fondly that amazing group.

Now as the new music begins, we’ll start a new dance with the new team. It may be awkward at first, toes may be stepped on, but we’ll go through the motions and we’ll find our groove…

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

How have you worked through your sorrows in the work place? Please share.