In the middle of the pandemic I wrote a blog about the 7 stages of grief in a bid to try and help a few people that I’d spoken to that were struggling mid-lockdown. It’s sometimes easy to forget that we need to grieve things as well as people.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the 7 stages they are, shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance. It might surprise you to know that there are 7 stages as for many years only 5 stages were acknowledged. In reality Dr Kubler-Ross who identified the process in 1969, added in shock and testing a bit later, hence the confusion.
Anyway – I was chatting to a friend the other day who was checking in on me to see how I was doing now that the college had gone, and when I truthfully mentioned that I was a little up and down, straight away they noted that this was normal. . . after all, I was grieving.
Now I consider myself quite psychologically aware, so the concept didn’t surprise me, however having the process validated by somebody meta to the whole debacle was surprisingly reassuring.
I won’t bore you with what stage I’m at, as let’s face it, the stages of grief are cyclical – and some days I can quite happily whizz around them all several times. The bit that strikes me though is quite how easily something can completely stop me in my tracks. It could be something tiny like a social media memory which jars my mind into thinking what was originally scheduled for now, or indeed it could be like the killer punch the other day of the company that had been hired to sell off all our goods, suddenly tagging us in a post. I mean I knew that they had been hired, I’d spoken to them a couple of times, I knew when the auction was coming to the end, yet still it caught me completely off guard and floored me for a little while.
Like all things and people that you grieve for, there’s that annoying constant that you can’t decide when the loss is going to hit you. One minute you’re laughing and joking and the next minute you find yourself having a right old moment of sadness and those tears are going to come out regardless of how you think you’re really doing.
Of course this particular process has been made even harder due to the fact that Trinity have still not been held to account for their massive role in all of this. In spite of all the evidence and the unanswered questions, there still hasn’t been an investigation into their alleged wrong-doing. Not that the truth coming out would change the outcome here, but it would be hugely reassuring to find out that this couldn’t happen again to another college.
So many people attempt to placate me by congratulating me on The MTA’s “legacy”, but you know in truth the ultimate legacy will be to hold Trinity to account, and ensure that they are regulated properly. So that part of the grieving process still has a way to go – and it’s a long way from over as there are still a few routes left to exhaust.
I should quickly add that that’s not to negate the amazing careers that we launched. As one graduate said to me the other day, in many ways The MTA is still there for them, as we still celebrate the jobs, the community that we built up is as strong as it ever was, with help & advice being given freely if needed. But for those people that truly “got” the college that part of our “legacy” was never in any doubt.
Posting a job nowadays has quite a bittersweet emotion attached to it. You celebrate the job and the person, but then have a quiet snarl because we could have been training so many more people for many years to come. There’s a resentment around what might have been, along with a celebration of what was.
The irony of course is that in many ways there are more pros than cons to suddenly leaving that life. I’m no longer forced to work stupid hours, my work/life balance has vastly improved and with that family life has changed beyond recognition. It’s with abject relief that I check into social media to see all the companies scrabbling around for stage management and tech crew, the staffing of which used to be my biggest nightmare around this time of year as the college produced two shows back to back.
So I guess that this blog is just for me to chart the journey really – and to acknowledge that grieving sucks. However, this is a positive post – imagine losing 14 years of work and feeling nothing. Now THAT would have been greater cause for concern.