When you lose someone to death, especially if it is a significant or premature, untimely death, and a death with unclear causes not investigated thoroughly, you will never get closure. You will have to learn to live with this loss and go through a hell you never imagined existed. You cannot speak to the person who died and say one last time Good-bye – or – I love you – or – Sorry I didn’t answer your last email, check your mail please, I sent you my response now – or – What happened to you that you just died like that? – or – Could I have done something? Did I miss something? – or – Will I see you again? – or – I’ll be fine, just look after yourself ………..
There is no closure. The door of grief will remain open for the rest of your life, it will cease in intensity with time, but it will never close. The shock and trauma that hits you out of no-where like a wrecking ball, and the can of worms it opens where existential fears, unanswered questions, foundational doubts of life and purpose, and every nightmare scenario crawl out and haunt you. Or as a German saying describes it better that when unforeseen events or tragedy hits you, a “rat’s tail” of events and complications will be attached to it, that you cannot get rid of.
It’s not just grief you’re dealing with, it becomes much more complicated as the floor underneath you is ripped away, the friends you thought you have disappear, the beliefs you built your life upon become like sand running through your fingers, your mind turns into a mine field where every thought becomes an explosive danger of anger, fear, self-doubt, and the desire to explode out of this life and join the one(s) you lost.
You just have to live through it, as someone I can’t remember who, once said that, “If you’re going through hell, keep going” the light at the end of the tunnel will appear eventually, just keep going through it, keep walking, don’t stop, don’t give up…
But this kind of closure of loss of life and the dark grief it brings is not what I am talking about. The kind of closure I sought since my ordeal started, was to get closure for having additional “heat” being poured on me while I was already in hell! The heat of systemic workplace bullying and the aim to get rid of me early in my trauma, even though I worked extremely well and even during the scorching heat of grief. I gave my sweat, blood and tears to a company who returned my labour with scorn, distance, coldness, scheming, blaming, excuses, additional burdens that almost crushed me beyond repair.
I was just a number, a dirty paper cup that needed to get discarded when it started to “leak” its grief and pain, while still working flawlessly in many areas, helping to bring results to shop after shop after shop. I had no value, was of no use, an inconvenience, a burden, a nuisance, a piece of trash that needed to get thrown on a pile of other useless cups that served their purpose.
It became even further complicated as the tactics were very clever to avoid responsibility. In my fog of grief I even apologized for many things that I didn’t need to apologize for! But this served them well where they often turned the situation around making me feel like I was the problem, like I was the one who created the problem, while it was ridiculously the opposite! When you are in shock and trauma, you cannot see as clear and cannot see the hand in front of you, like if you were crawling with your car through the thickest fog in winter, expecting to hit a car in front of you or being hit from behind just trying desperately to get out of this mess.
The closure I would have wished for, but know it is wishful thinking, is the closure where Pret A Manger would have the backbone to apologize, not just for their “insensitivity” as the CEO put it, because he did apologize AFTER I apologized first for my traumatic rants that I started after repeatedly approaching HR for months, to make suggestions in how to support me and people like me who are bereaved. His apology that was sandwiched into patronizing sentences. A typical Pret sandwich of belittling and patronizing.
I would have wished for an apology for repeatedly being put under suppressive management to get me under control, so I become quiet again like I was before, obedient and following a toxic leadership style that silences people through fear management.
An apology for the systemic bullying and suppressive culture in shop after shop, no matter if the staff is already suffering from personal loss or any tragedy.
An apology for the refusal to be open to all the suggestions and resources available that I made the effort to seek out and bring forward, to no avail. Pret A Manger = Ready to Eat! It was all there, right in front of them, presented like on a Pret silver platter, suggestion after suggestion, link after link after resources after ideas… a waste of time and energy.
An apology for offending me, not only by offering settlement agreements if I resign and be silent about my ordeal, but having a laugh by offering peanuts while I lost all my savings after my brother died, and trying to take advantage of my financial strain. Offering peanuts as if I was a person who can be bribed with, what for Pret are pennies. No, thank you! I am not for sale nor do I prostitute my values to anyone, no matter what amount is offered.
An apology for the greatest perverted act in all of this, the sick audacity of having tasked a Development Manger who lost her brother similar to how I lost mine to sanction me. Not to put us into contact to support each other in our common grief, which would have been a massive help and step forward; but instead using her to give me a disciplinary for my electronic messaging and her allowing her dignity to be stepped upon like that!
And if this wasn’t enough, an apology for her then entering into secret electronic messaging, traumatizing me more as this “support” was fake and the hopes of someone understanding my bereavement was taken away again. How toxic, disrespectful and perverse can it get?! What else is Pret capable of?!
An apology for then dismissing me in my trauma and ill behaviour that was further fueled by the Development Manager’s secret conduct with the blessing of HR and her being excused and protected in her conduct.
An apology for the scheming and plannings of the HR department with certain key people involved since my informal approach of HR in May 2015.
An apology for stepping on my dignity, having become ill and the hopelessness and anxieties if I ever get my mental health back.
An apology for the CEO belittling me calling me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, minimizing my ill emailing for which I got dismissed two months later!
An apology for dismissing me while my father was in intensive care just woken from a coma, thrusting me into a new hell I am going through.
An apology for the silence at my outcry in the hopes that the brilliant PR will make this go away.
I want an apology for having been robbed of the time to grieve my brother.
I want Pret A Manger to apologize for robbing me of time to come to terms.
I want the CEO to not skip out silently, but take responsibility!
There is no closure until dealt with in true integrity and a hard look at the core and foundation of Pret A Manger. If true values are not lived and visible, if slogans only serve as phrases to lull in the public and staff to present a shiny facade, the foundation will crumble eventually.
With loss to death there is no closure, but with events that happen while alive, there can be closure.
Until then, there will be no closure.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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