My Screensaver is Death

Truly it is.  The screensaver on my computer at work is about death.  It is a visual of a small child in a state of despair overwritten with a message about speeding and those we leave behind because of our irresponsible behaviour.  Death is not written out as a word, but the innuendo, the unspoken, is about loss – DEATH.

I work for a large organization with thousands of employees.  I work at the main office and my computer is part of the centralized network.  In the last week someone in authority okayed the use of the screensaver as a broadcast mechanism to relay this message.  Ticks a box of sort I suppose.  I don’t go to work to think about death, dying, loss or any of that stuff.  I do that well enough on my own, especially this week.  The last week of March brings what would have been my anniversary; it also marks one year since Kevin’s death.  Needless to say, I am thinking about death a lot.  Work provides a distraction where I can immerse myself in activities that take my mind off of death, loss, dying – all those sad and sorrowful thoughts.  At least it did.

After the first day or so of “the message”, I emailed our technical department to politely ask to have it removed from my workstation.  It is upsetting, morbid and, personally, I find it quite stressful.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if it only popped up first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t.  It pops up all throughout the day; every time I lock my screen, whenever I don’t utilize the computer and it is dormant up pops that screensaver.  Unlike a television channel I don’t have the option to turn it off or make it go away.

I have learned over the last few months that there are triggers that can start a downward spiral.  I know, for example, that if I go into Kevin’s art room I will invariably cry.  I may choose to go into the room but I don’t have to if I don’t want to.  When I do, I accept the consequences of my actions, I am prepared.  Mentally prepared; I either steel myself emotionally because I want to work in the room, or I may open myself up because I feel the need to be close to my late husband.  At the end of the day I have a choice.  This silly little screensaver does not give anyone a choice – you can’t hit escape to get rid of it.

My request to the technical department was acknowledged but identified as a low priority item – for them.  For me it is not.  How dare they take away my safe space!  I found myself so angry this morning when I had to go in and face that messaging yet again.  I had a meltdown and ended up with my manager at my desk telling me she’d do the best she could to remedy the situation. Admittedly I am a bit out of sorts and I knew I’d have a tough week, but work had factored in as part of the solution to getting through this time, not as part of the problem.  The busier I am the faster the time goes; I am using the head down and get through it approach.

I don’t need a screensaver to serve as a touchstone to loss, sorrow, sadness.  Really, who does?  Does the employer think that the employees feel good and positive after viewing this message? For the normal person it’s a downer, for me it’s an emotional brick they keep throwing at me.  Truthfully, I am strung so tight right now, I feel if I have to face that message again tomorrow morning I may just head back home.


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