Refocused, After a Staggering Loss


BY: Joshua Bright for The New York Times

I’VE always handled stress well. Any job would bore me if it didn’t have an element of stress. Part of my coping secret is that I compartmentalize. So when I’m at work, I’m 100 percent at work. When I’m mothering, I’m 100 percent Mommy.

In my line of work, this comes in handy. As an I.T. vice president, I oversee key technology systems development in the human resources department at the Manhattan headquarters of Morgan Stanley.

What I like about technology is that if a glitch develops, I can identify the problem and fix it. Even if it’s 1 in the morning, I get up — because there are people literally on the other side of the world waiting for me — and fix it. Then they’re back online, and I go back to sleep.

When my husband, Norman Ferren, learned in January 2008 that he had cancer, my first thought was, “We’ll fix it, then we’ll be back online in a blink.” At the time, our son, William, who had been born two months prematurely, was a month old.

Two months later, Norm lost his battle with cancer. Suddenly an only parent, I was left to live a life for two that had been meant for three. And I still had a very demanding job.

Missing him will never go away, but by compartmentalizing and designing my own life operating system, I am adjusting — thriving at work and being a good mommy, but not without the help of my parents, some old and some newfound friends, and my employer.

Morgan Stanley offered a hand in a few ways to help me jump-start my adjustment to widowhood. Through its Employee Assistance Program, I had three free counseling sessions with a… READ THE FULL ARTICLE >