I'm not someone who cries often, but there was a group relations conference at which tears became a regular occurrence for me. Surprisingly, it happened not only during my time in the Small Study Group, but even in the Large Study Group. I felt as if I had transformed into someone entirely unlike my usual self.
A few months prior, I had experienced the loss of someone very dear to me. Despite the passage of that time, the grief I carried still felt fresh. It seemed that this emotional weight found its way to the surface during the conference, manifesting in tears.
This conference marked a significant moment for many of us as it was the first time we gathered in person after the prolonged period of social distancing caused by the pandemic. Considering the circumstances, I doubted that I was the only member grappling with a loss related to COVID-19. Perhaps my tears were not solely my own, but also those of other members.
Typically, the director of a group relations conference also takes the role of Large Study Group consultant. However, this director did not. It was a departure from what I had come to expect. The director briefly reappeared during the Institutional Event, but then vanished again. I couldn't help but wonder if, in addition to all our personal losses, we had now also lost our director.
Later, we learned that the director, who, like me, was not white, had also, like me, recently suffered a loss. My tears might have also been the director's.