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Once upon a time, when I was a Hotel Receptionist…

Sky City2It was back in the late 90’es and I was fresh out of Hotel Management School (yes, a Swiss one), thought I owned the World, and I landed my first job at the Radisson SAS Sky City Hotel at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.

I LOVED my job! I loved the languages, the different cultures, finding weird and wonderful solutions, making people smile, connecting and listening to peoples stories. I loved the challenge to resolve anger, disappointment and frustration from guests being turned away due to over bookings, bad meetings and missed flight connections. What I didn’t love were the hours and the salary (actually, the uniform was a bit silly as well)… I remember once, as I was working a weekend shift, a couple walked in to the lobby looking pale as sheets and slightly disoriented. I walked up to them and asked if I could help them at all? The husband then told me that they had just received a phone call, devastating news, and was there any private space where they could sit down and absorbed what had just crushed their hearts? I quickly arranged for them to use one of the conference rooms free of charge and they both started sobbing, probably relieved that someone heard them and could accommodate their needs.

Fast forward a few years when I’m standing outside the Children’s hospital in Zürich, completely disoriented and fuzzyheaded after receiving the terminal diagnosis of our 3-month old daughter. There was no one to comfort us, no room was put in order for us to let the news sink in, no hand to hold or ear to listen to our story. I felt SOOO ALONE! Until this day I ask myself, why, when they knew that they were going to give that diagnosis, did they not assemble a care team, a private room, a priest or at least SOMEONE that could just sit there with us for a while? Why did I find myself standing on a busy street with no instructions on what to do, who to see or what to expect next?

2013-05-26 12-36-06 SGToday I find myself creating that very dream job for myself! It’s like I’ve managed to pull out all the things I loved about being a receptionist and mix it with the caring professional I missed having access to that day at the Children’s Hospital. I work in three different languages, I connect with the most wonderful people, I try my best to find solutions and find relief for people in difficult emotional situations and I can chose my own hours and set my own price tags. Now I can create that space for others, be the one who listens and that has access to a fantastic network of caring professionals that can help where I fall short.

Why am I rambling on about this? Because I want to show you that it’s possible to create your dream job! It takes time, dedication, courage, a lot of savings and financial stress, but it’s so worth it in the long run! Find what makes your heart sing, because others will benefit tremendously!

 

Talking to children about loss

Simple DO’s and DON’Ts:

  • DO – Go first. As the adult, you are the leader. 
  • DO – Tell the truth about how you feel. – Telling the truth about your own grief and about how you feel will establish a tone of trust and make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.
  • DO – Recognise that grief is emotional, not intellectual and that sad or scared feelings are normal. Avoid the trap of asking your child what is wrong, for he or she will automatically say “Nothing”.
  • DO – Listen with you heart, not your head. Allow all emotions to be expressed without judgement, criticism, or analysis.
  • DO – Remember that each child is unique and has a unique relationship to the loss.
  • DO – Be patient. Don’t force your child to talk. Give your child time. Make sure to plant healthy ideas about talking about feelings.

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  • DON’T – Say “Don’t feel scared”. Fear is a common and normal response.
  • DON’T – Say “Don’t feel sad”. Sadness is a healthy and normal reaction. Sadness and fear, the most common feelings attached to loss of any kind, are essential to being human.
  • DON’T – Ask your children how they are feeling. Like adults, fearful of being judged, they will automatically say, “I’m fine”, even though they are not.
  • DON’T – Act strong for your children. They will interpret your “non-feeling” as something they are supposed to copy.
  •  DON’T – Compare their lives or situations to others in the world. Comparison always minimizes feelings.
  • DON’T – Make promises that you cannot keep. Instead of saying “Everything’s going to be okay”, say, “We’ll do everything we can to be safe”.
  • DON’T – Forget that your children are very smart. Treat them and their feelings with respect and dignity as you would like to be treated by others.