Coping with the loss of a leader; assistance available through LifeMatters 

As the Marquette community continues to grieve the passing of President Michael R. Lovell, the university wants all who are coping with this loss to know that there are resources available to help. Marquette provides a confidential, independent employee assistance program, LifeMatters, to all employees and members of their immediate household (even those students away at school). 

The EAP offers up to six free sessions with a master’s-level counselor with whom employees can talk about their emotional, stress-related, relationship or family concerns in person or over the phone. 

Coping with the loss of a leader – from LifeMatters 

There is no “right” way to react to the loss of a leader. However, many people may experience one or more of the following reactions: 

  • Disbelief. You may feel unprepared to cope with the loss or be unwilling to accept that the person is gone. This is a form of emotional shock. Some people may behave as if nothing has happened or have a delayed or private reaction to the loss. 
  • Fear. Learning about a person’s death, even that of someone you didn’t personally know, may lead you to question your own values, priorities and life goals. You may also wonder how new leadership may impact your job. 
  • Anger. You may experience unexpected or surprising bouts of anger or resentment about the situation. Some anger may even be directed at the person who has died. 
  • Variable emotions. You may feel good one minute and awful the next. Allow yourself to feel your emotions as they arise. 
  • Reminiscence. It may be helpful to share favorite memories of your leader with colleagues and others who knew them, either at work or in a more casual setting. 
  • Healing over time. Grief is cyclical and has no set timeline. You may suddenly miss your leader or wish for their advice months or even years from now. 

How to help yourself: 

  • Balance. Reach out for support when you need it. Allow time for personal reflection and space to grieve. 
  • Express your feelings. Talk, cry or share anger in safe ways. Create art, write in a journal or do something to help others. 
  • Follow your routine. It’s important to maintain a sense of stability when you are grieving or during times of change. 
  • Be patient. Some colleagues may be irritable or withdrawn. Keep in mind that these behaviors are often a response to feelings of grief. 
  • Set aside the past. Consider if it is time to let go of old grudges and seek reconciliation in any damaged work or personal relationships. 

When to ask for help: 

  • If your life, work or relationships are being disrupted 
  • If your feelings are overwhelming and you don’t know how to express them 
  • If you aren’t sure if the way you are reacting is “normal” 
  • If you are using alcohol or drugs to cope 

LifeMatters is available to support you through a loss. Call 1-800-634-6433 24/7/365.