Most people never know what it really means to be a manager. They think we make schedules and balance budgets - and spend our time trying to make your lives hell. But in fact we spend our time like a ship captain - steering the ship through the waters, keeping progress forward and moving on in our quest.
When there is tragedy, when there is death and destruction - someone has to steer the ship. If you take your hands off the wheel, the ship can and will crash on the rocks. There will be chaos and there will be more problems than not if someone does not keep their hands firmly on the wheel - guiding the ship through waters that have turned to mourning and sadness.
Your manager doesn't have the luxury of falling onto the floor and sobbing, shrieking her disbelief at cruel fate. Hands on the ship - she balances the chaos with holding the course, holding steady. Your manager has to fill out forms to remove the dead from systems - writing the name of the one lost over and over, no matter how much it hurts. Your manager talks to other department heads, with a smile, assuring everyone that the ship continues on it's path - that we have the helm and not to worry.
She is in control.
She sees that all of you have what you need in grief counseling and time off. She sits and quietly plots and plans time off for team members to attend wake and funeral. Steering the ship while she plans, she holds tight to the wheel so that everyone is served best at this time. Your manager probably knew about the tragedy before you did, and spent the evening planning out what the needs of her team would be at this time - and how to continue onward while holding all team members safely close.
You probably don't see the tears shed in private, or the overwhelming sense of loss your manager feels. Because if you see it, you might feel overwhelmed too and that isn't productive or good for the team. So your manager pulls a tight smile and trudges onward - balancing balancing balancing. Your manager must show you strength and courage through adversity - even if they don't feel it themselves.
And your manager can never, ever take their hands off the wheel.
Not even to dry her tears.