When we hear of violent ways another human life is taken, no matter their identities, do we all feel the same emotions? Do we feel sadness? Anger? Despair? Or are these emotions reserved for only members of your community?
What happens to members of the community from which that person’s life has been senselessly and violently erased?
In seeing the news headlines around yet another senseless and systemically motivated murder of African-American Tyre Nichols, I admit it evoked all the above emotions in me. I experienced sadness, despair, and fear, among other unexplored emotions.
I know I am not alone in experiencing these emotions. Members from the African-Caribbean Canadian community share them too. My colleagues from the Latinx community have expressed the feelings they, too, are experiencing.
During the early period of George Floyd’s murder and the spotlight shone on the inequitable ways people of African descent are systemically treated globally, I had two beautiful and very supportive communication pieces. One email and a handwritten letter from two of my white colleagues. Both of whom I worked with when I was a practising Dietitian.
When I think about how members of different communities reached out to me during these times of unsettled unrest, It makes me think about workplaces and what or how leaders can offer comfort and solace to their impacted employees. How do workplace leaders support employees whose communities have experienced violence?
The list below are steps we all can take to help navigate our way through trauma brought about by violent actions meted out on our respective communities.
Talk. Talk with someone who gives you the space to do so safely and freely.
Identify. What is your self-care go-to? Identify and practice them. I do a walking meditation to burn off stress.
Silence. Do so if you make sense of senseless acts by spending time in silent contemplation.
Nutrition. Choose foods that are nourishing vs. high-stress. I gravitate toward soups rich with vegetables, lentils, and squash. Or I choose nuts and seeds as quick snacks. I nourish and energize my body while grieving.
Townhall. Let the impacted employees and their co-workers know you care and are not afraid to discuss it.
Resources. Bring in resources such as grief counsellors, coaches and Elders in the community to hold council.
Hold council. Gather in small groups and allow those impacted time to speak without anyone needing to give solutions.
Coaching. During one-on-one coaching, allow time for employees to address ( if they wish) how the event might be impacting them and their work.
These are a few ways I have worked with myself, family, friends and clients as a way of offering to heal. By committing to help your employees during these difficult times, you are fulfilling a time-honoured tradition of building relationships by building community. This is a critical Inter-Human responsibility.
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