Telecommuting, Grief & the 4th Wall — Working in the New Ordinary

Edy Nathan
3 min readSep 1, 2022
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

What does grief, remote work and theater have in common?

It’s the 4th wall, a theater term used to describe the invisible wall between the audience and the action depicted by the characters in a play. What’s amazing about it is how it allows actors to create a reality on stage that you, as the audience, buys into. The actors and the audience rarely engage directly once the show is over.

The pandemic introduced people to the idea of the 4th wall, without actually naming it. Calling out to family members who sat in the kitchen, “I’m going to work, you need to be quiet.” They were creating the 4th wall. They were creating distance.

And everything about the status of work, work life and employee rights and desires shifted more in the last few years, than in the last 20 years. These major life changes resulted in stress, burnout and grief for anyone who relied on the rhythm and structure of the workplace. Once they were held captive, having to work within the confines of the home office, these arenas rarely, if ever, were discussed or identified within the work environs.

Delicious — maybe at first.

Difficult — in the mid-life of the mandate to stay at home.

Impossible — six-ten weeks in — the lost sense of creativity and drive, and the missing piece of work.

Yes, not all grief is a result of the loss of a loved one. It can show up when something has shifted, resulting in a loss of position and view in the room. You have lost control, your voice, the ability to feel a sense of control. It hurts and frankly, is potentially emotionally annihilating.

Stay home. Work. And “who am I” types of questioning tends to creep in. Depression, anxiety and self confidence are phantom-like energies, creating inertia and fear. Whatever persona you’ve created in the workforce, dissipates behind the 4th wall at home. The you you knew is no longer the you you are.


  • Be intentional when working behind the 4th wall: Set alarms for a break and really take a break for 5 minutes.
  • Breathe, too often we breathe rather shallowly, which does not nourish your…
Edy Nathan

Author of “It’s Grief: The Dance of Self-Discovery Through Trauma and Loss” | Blogger for Psychology Today, Thrive Health | Psychotherapist |📕