From an HR Professional and Parent from Sandy Hook, CT

By Terry Gottleib posted 12-17-2012 16:00


Last Friday, December 14, 2012, I had taken a vacation day to get my Christmas shopping done and await my daughter's arrival home from the University of Connecticut.  As I was preparing a nice late breakfast for my younger daughter, 19, she came to me in her pajamas with laptop in hand, her face white as a ghost and said, "Mom there's been ashooting at Sandy Hook School."

My daughters attended Sandy Hook Elementary from kindegarten to 5th grade.  For us, this tragedy doesn't hit close to home, it is home.  We know some of the staff who died and a couple of the children killed were members of our church family. Our tears flowed, our anger raged, and we spent a sorrowful and prayerful weekend working at Trinity Episcopal Church, keeping our doors open for anyone needing a place to weep, pray, or receive a hug. 

As I prepared for work this morning, as head of HR for a small New York company, I realized that it was my job to make sure that our employees had some time to express their feelings about this horrific tragedy.  I thought I was OK as I dressed for work until I heard the replay of President Obama reading the names of the victims.  I lost it, and the tears spilled down once again.

I blotted my running eyeliner and took deep breathes as I pulled into the parking lot at work.  "I can do this," I said to myself.  I have a personal rule; never cry while on the job and if I do, run to the bathroom.

As I walked down the hall to my office two female employees were chatting, stopped me and said, "How are you doing?"  Both began to cry and I hugged them hard and my own waterworks began.  Others stopped me throughout the morning and we shed more tears. 

My boss and I are the only ones at the office who live in Newtown/Sandy Hook but I realize the profound impact this event has had on all of us.  He and I pushed back our sorrow and began to tackle business as usual.  It did help and the anguish subsided somewhat.  I found myself able to welcome others, especially parents, into my office and allow them to cry or talk about their feelings. 

I have many thoughts for today but one is; HR professionals are human too.  You know how we are sometimes thought of as heartless rule makers?  Not today. 

I hope you are all blessed this holiday season full of love and time with family and friends.  Please keep those who are grieving in your thoughts and prayers.

TJ Gottleib
Senior Manager, Human Resources and Administrative Services