Wonderful the brief chats you have running into people, as we’re both going about other things!

I hadn’t seen this person for a while. A “how’s it going in your area?” led us into the trauma brought on by the federal government’s impending VSU (Voluntary Student Unionism) legislation – a recipe for decimating the range of student activities and supports on offer on university campuses. Some existing services will still be required. So the name of the game at the moment is “restructure”.

She tells me how difficult it is for everyone working through these issues, though she herself has come to terms with it.

We can both understand that people who have long committed themselves to enhancing student life on the campus feel betrayed by this ideologically driven piece of legislation. We can both understand anger about the scrapping of hard-won principles, not just job losses. It’s bigger than that – it’s the loss of a world.

As we talked it occurred to me that we were talking about grief. In my mind, I turned to Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ work on the stages of grief. So when I used the word “denial” it seemed to hit the spot; and when I suggested that perhaps what was happening might be related to grief it seemed that a new horizon opened up. To have a framework for understanding and making sense can be very empowering!

Perhaps the ‘teacher’ still in me causes my concern that, in a climate of increasing pragmatism, dealing with these human dynamics at the grass roots in an educative way is vital. If the image conjured up by the word “re-structure” is one of merely shifting Lego blocks, is it any wonder that depression is at such a high! The working through of the dynamics of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, to me, are as important as the restructured outcome itself.

It seems to me that Kubler Ross affirms what the Judeo-Christian heritage (for one) has always known. The Jews went through it all when their temple – the symbol of their identity – was destroyed in about 587BCE and they had to come to terms with that fact in a foreign land. Flick through the record of Jeremiah and we read lessons in grief.

But back to VSU. When do we “maintain the rage” and when do we come to acceptance and move on?

And for those who may be going through the grief of job displacement, I hope you find the attached article by Steve Jobs, of “Apple” fame, given at a graduation ceremony in the US this year, of encouragement. Steve Jobs’ Story

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