Grief in the Workplace: Video Rough Draft

Warning:

This video and the following blog post deal with issues like cancer, disability, loss, and grief. I feel that these issues are a part of life, however, for some people, they may be emotionally distressing.

Theme:

I want to explore how grief and disability can be closely intertwined.

Over the past few weeks, I have had conversations with individuals who still bear the psychological burden of grief. Losing a loved one is a part of the human experience. It is a certainty of life. Yet, despite this, grief and loss are often treated as taboo subjects. 

My mother’s illness and subsequent passing was a traumatic time for my family. Her brain cancer was utterly unexpected, having no family history, and it irrevocably changed all of our lives. We are all forever marked by this event, and yet, bringing it up can sometimes feel impossible.   

While I am at work, I need to display a professional persona. I don’t want to make people feel sad or uncomfortable. I don’t want my employers to perceive me as too emotional, incompetent, or unprofessional. However, during the first few years of my professional career, there was an ever-present cloud hanging over me. Grief, depression, and anxiety had affected my life to the point where sometimes I would feel overwhelmed and desperately need to retreat somewhere. As a result, I did not always present a cheerful facade to my employers. 

These feelings are inconvenient when you’re trying to hold down a full-time job. It’s worse when your home is no longer a retreat for you but a place of sadness. Networking and carrying out working functions can feel nearly impossible when grief is weighing down your mind. 

I explore a few of these ideas in this audio story, but I don’t think I have come anywhere close to a solution. I honestly do not know the best way to manage grief and professionalism because each person’s experience with grief is unique. Some people find peace and tranquility within their work. Staying busy can be an excellent way to process the complicated feelings of loss, especially if you are passionate about your work. The kindness of coworkers and employers can make a huge difference in your ability to work. A little empathy goes a long way.

Raw materials:

  1. The Ocean: I had some friends visiting this week, and they brought their drone with them. Using their drone, we were able to catch this gorgeous Santa Cruz ocean view at sunset. I knew I wanted to present the Ocean as a metaphor for grief, so I thought this footage was lovely.
  2. The Vertical Video: Our assignments stated that we should not film footage vertically. I agree with this, and I have learned over the years to film horizontally. However, I chose to include this video because it was the last video I ever recorded of my mom. My past self was unaware of the horizontal-camera rule. So, this video is all that I have left of my mom from that time. None of us knew how sick she was at the time when I took it. I didn’t know that this day would mark the end of a chapter of our lives.
  3. The Interview: As part of my semester-long project, I recorded several interviews with other accountants to get their opinions on disability in the workplace. This video features my coworker, Alysia Cumbo, and she brought up several interesting points during our conversation that involved her journey with grief, mental health, and professionalism. I have asked her permission to use this video footage and am incredibly grateful for her time and help with this project.
  4. Additional Sounds: I recorded a short narration and included some ocean sounds to pull the video together.

Effects:

I used the razor tool extensively while preparing this audio story. For my video transitions, I regularly employed the cross-dissolve while changing the duration of the effect depending on the segment’s tone. I struggled with keeping sound and volume steady and had to do some additional research to figure out how to lower the volume of certain portions of the video recording. 

Areas for Improvement:

This project puts the “rough” in draft. I see a lot of room for improvement within this project, and I am looking forward to my group members’ critiques while I create my final draft. I fully plan on rewriting my narration to make the theme of the video more clear. I want to improve my video and audio transitions, re-record the narration for better sound quality throughout the video, fix the aspect ratio, and give the video more polish. I will also look into including additional or different footage, and I am open to changing the tone of my narration. Finally, I want to keep the video of my mom, but I am open to suggestions for ways to edit it. This project is important to me, so I hope to reflect that in the quality of my work.  I hope that anyone who reviews this rough draft feel comfortable telling me how it could be improved.

Thank you!

A screenshot of my sequence in Premiere Pro

7 thoughts on “Grief in the Workplace: Video Rough Draft

  1. Alexandra,

    I want to thank you for tackling such a personal and emotional topic in your video. As you say it is difficult to work effectively and be at our best when dealing with heavy issues that consume our lives outside of work. All of us have times in our lives that are more difficult than others, but there are also moments that go far beyond the usual struggles we all face as human beings.

    Your topic is difficult, but I think your video is off to a great start. The opening and the closing with that footage from the ocean sets the tone and serves as a metaphor for your topic. I wanted to stay in that space a while longer. Your narration and tone matches your goal of the video and the interview is heartfelt and impactful.

    Your video is off to a wonderful start and I think your content is serving your topic well. I have just a few suggestions you might consider when you edit your final version.

    A title slide or text overlay might help set up your topic so the viewer knows where they are heading. Similarly, you might consider transition slides with some sort of stats or information, or perhaps just a quote when you transition from one clip to the next. Since you have two primary clips, one of your mom, and one of your interviewee that might be a good lead in for the viewer.

    You mentioned you were going to re-write your narration (this is something I am considering for my video as well) so that might be an opportunity to give your viewer more information about what your purpose is in the video. I think this could make it more cohesive and valuable to your audience.

    Again, I very much appreciate you tackling a topic that is not easy to discuss.

    My best,
    Kim

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    1. Hi Kim,

      Thank you for your feedback! I’m so glad you enjoyed the ocean footage – I’m completely in love with it, and I feel like it is the perfect visual for the metaphor. I realize that this topic is heavy and can make people uncomfortable, so I appreciate your kind, thoughtful words.

      Best,

      Alexandra

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  2. Alexandra–

    What a poignant, painful, and beautiful video you’ve shared with us. I feel as though I know you better even though we’ve only met electronically. The list of things you’ve incorporated really well is a long one:

    1) Your disclosure statement at the beginning was smart and very helpful. Combined with your title, you let me know what to expect so I wasn’t blindsided. *Thank you.*

    2) You’ve woven your narrative with your mom’s voice just beautifully. Your tone of voice is direct yet contemplative and it drew me in to listen despite a difficult subject.

    3) The footage of your mom also lends immediate authenticity to your narration, showing us how much this subject means to you and that you are speaking from experience. As a result, we trust you to take us on this journey and feel awe in your courage to discuss it with others.

    4) Your Santa Cruz footage is INCREDIBLE. It lifted me out of the somber discussion, while the repetition of peaceful waves underscored the poignancy of the subject. Beautiful.

    I watched the video before reading your blog because I wanted a clean first impression. I also watched it several times on cellphone, laptop, and laptop with headphones. Some technical suggestions you might consider:

    1) Regarding the video of your mom: it doesn’t matter at all that it’s vertical – in fact, I like that it is set apart from the rest. I agree you should keep it. I suggest omitting the audio of your “bye” at the end because it briefly draws our attention away from her eyes. (On the other hand, saying “bye” is moving, too, isn’t it?)

    2) In addition to the seashore footage (making me smile again) you might consider a slide between the ocean scene and split video to navigate the discussion topics, perhaps white text on black screen? Visual text “breaks” like that might be more crucial if you made a longer video, so we get a break from the now-familiar scene of seeing colleagues onscreen.

    3) You mentioned you’d like to polish the audio so you may already realize this: at minute 1:45, the subtle sound of ocean waves is wonderful but it’s very quiet – I didn’t realize it was there until I listened through headphones. Your voice at that point is also more muffled, less crisp than in your opening statements. You might play with that particular segment and up the volume on both audios a smidge.

    4) I’d love to know how you actually recorded your conversation. Was it through Skype, Teams, or other? Did you record it through the software or with your camera facing the screen? I anticipate recording conversations with my colleagues and would love to know your secret to getting that crisp and clear video. 😊

    Your video echoed the message in your blog: a little empathy goes a long way. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience with us, Alexandra. You’ve reminded us that we all have (or will have) similar experiences and it’s good to remember that… and to remember that we are not alone. I am grateful to you.

    Elaine Heim

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    1. Elaine,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for your helpful and incisive advice. I have definitely taken your suggestions to heart, and I hope to implement them to effectively share my message. I will take some extra time to practice my text and transition slides, so my final draft will hopefully do a better job of moving from topic to topic.

      Also, thank you for pointing out the moment that the waves were too subtle. After my audio rough draft, I was worried that the sound might be intrusive, but I see I was worried for nothing. Finally, I’m glad you liked the vertical video of my mom! It means a lot to me, as it’s the only video I have of her. I see what you mean about the “Bye” taking away from the visual, and I wonder if there is a way I could split the video and use the “bye” at the end. Just an idea, but you’ve made me think, so thank you!

      Best,

      Alexandra

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  3. Hey Alexandra,

    Wow, your video was simply breathtaking. You approached a sensitive topic with poise and tenderness, while also providing insight from multiple points of view. I loved the calming clips of the ocean: the way the clips move along the shoreline made me feel as if I were there myself. The softness in your narration fits your topic perfectly, and undoubtedly promotes a sense of comfort for your audience members who can relate to loss and grief.

    I like that you incorporated footage of your interview. It places a face to a name and voice which helps the viewer better connect to the messaging as a whole. Your interviewee was also very insightful and added even more value to the video.

    One suggestion that comes to mind is to edit down the interview section just a tad. While I enjoyed your coworker’s story, I found myself wanting to hear more about your own experiences. Your commentary was a bit broad, so I’d love to see you go a bit deeper into how you handled dealing with grief in the workplace. I believe doing so would help you build even stronger rapport with your audience.

    I noticed a lack of text in your video overall. Adding an introductory title and perhaps a title clip before your interview segment would help frame your video nicely. I also think you should consider adding soft background noise to your interview clips. Perhaps the sound of waves crashing, or even some quiet music, would add a bit more auditory texture to the middle of your video and provide smoother flow throughout.

    Amazing job, Alexandra! I’m looking forward to watching your final video!

    Best,

    Lily Engel

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    1. Hi Lily,

      Thank you for the kind comments! I agree about the text – I think it would help the video quite a bit, but I’m still struggling to figure out just where to put it! I have a few ideas, though, so thank you for the suggestion. And I’ll try and put some more of my own perspective in the video – it’ll take a little rewriting of the narrative, but that’s all part of the process. Hopefully, the final product will be good! 🙂

      Best,

      Alexandra

      Like

  4. I have reviewed the work of my peers and absorbed their comments, and I have a few ideas of how I would like to move forward. Upon reflection of my work, I realize that it lacks a central theme and needs more information to tie the video together. This will be a challenge, considering the 3-minute time limit, but I think I can do it. So, again, I have a few ideas for how to move this forward.

    To start, I plan on rewriting and re-recording my script to ensure more even sound quality and a more cohesive narrative. I would also like to explore different footage and camera angles, and I have a few ideas for other views I might like to include in this video. I also noted that several of my group members suggested using text and transition slides more. With that note, I plan on working those new transitions into my script. Finally, I’m going to do some additional research to see if there is any data on the effects of grief at work and vice versa. Although this project has been difficult to work on, I think it has promise, and I’m excited to see what I can do.

    Like

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