Moving forward instead of moving on –  Tonkin’s grief model

Moving forward instead of moving on –  Tonkin’s grief model

It may sound weird and paradoxical to have a favourite model for grieving, but I actually have one. Grief and loss is so very much part of our life and organizations’ everyday reality that it is worth giving it a thought.

The other day one of my coaching client working on how to find the opportunities in a new set up just realized that she is deeply sad about losing the old way of working. Merges, acquisitions, reorganizations keep on happening and they may easily result in our losing a mentor/leader, who always had your back, losing the setup that helped you to be successful, a structure that created opportunities … Suddenly you can just find yourself alone, isolated, deprived of all that used to provide stability and connection, your career goals and organizational vision. That is a serious loss and a lot to take.

A model that helped me personally a lot in times of such traumatic loss is Tonkin’s model on grief.

To me this model represents, that mourning and rebuilding can as well coexist. You can have conscious efforts on letting life grow around the sadness. Not easy, conscious and consistent steps are needed, which at certain times may feel really hard to take. But if you keep on doing so, your life will not be driven by the pain of loss but by the curiosity to explore the new, changed situation. It does not mean that you forget about what you lost as that will stay with you having a special place in your heart. It’s more about moving forward not moving.   

Tamara Szabó
OD consultant, trainer, coach (MCC), team coach

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