Activity 2: Journaling

Activity time: 15 minutes

Share “What Personnel Handbooks Never Tell You,” a poem by James A. Autry, first published in 1992:

They leave a lot out of the personnel handbooks.
Dying, for instance.
You can find funeral leave
but you can’t find dying.
You can’t find what to do
when a guy you’ve worked with since you both were pups
looks you in the eye
and says something about hope and chemotherapy.
No phrases,
no triplicate forms,
no rating systems.
Seminars won’t do it
and it’s too late for a new policy on sabbaticals.

They don’t tell you about eye contact
and how easily it slips away
when a woman who lost a breast
says, “They didn’t get it all.”
You can find essays on motivation
but the business schools
don’t teach what the good manager says
to keep people taking up the slack
while someone steals a little more time
at the hospital.
There’s no help from those tapes
you pop into the player
while you drive or jog.
They’d never get the voice right.

And this poem won’t help either.
You just have to figure it out for yourself,
and don’t ever expect to do it well.

Another option is to show “Born on a Sunny Day” and “A Special Emotion.”

Call attention to color pencils, markers, pens, and pencils. Invite participants to write or draw, responding individually in their journals to the poem, the video, their personal expressions and experiences of grief, or all three. Play meditative music while they journal.