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When You (Badly) Need a Bereavement Day

Mar 02, 2020

Teacher suffering from acute stress resting her head on her arms at her desk in front of the blackboard as she seeks to gather herself together-1No matter how bright, capable and motivated you are, you're going to have those moments when you just can't get unstuck.

That's where I found myself last Tuesday afternoon. Then I realized why.

The Friday before as I was sitting down to lunch, I received a text saying my Uncle Dave had had a heart attack. I prayed as you might expect that he would make a full recovery.

Friday night while walking home from the store, I received another text: "Dad joined Mom and David tonight." 


It was a hard weekend: absorbing this news, comforting my cousins, comforting myself, and informing other family members without ruining their night's sleep or morning coffee.

But when Monday came, I managed to plug right back in. If anything, the pace and structure of work brought relief.

So I couldn't understand why Tuesday felt so hard. But I finally decided to accept it, and that's when the fog began to lift.

Uncle Dave was my big strapping uncle from the day I was born—the one who often asked how I was doing, the one who let out a string of "poetry" in my oldest brother's honor when he found out about my brother's diagnosis, the one I was looking forward to seeing this spring at his granddaughter's wedding.

After a lifetime of knowing him, why wouldn't I need a day after losing him?

Grief is hard. It can be messy. But it becomes more manageable when you give it the attention it deserves.

Incidentally, the one "work" thing I really needed to get done on Tuesday, I did. But I needed that break in between to make it happen.

Managers, don't be afraid to grant bereavement time. If you're worried employees will abuse it, maybe you've got the wrong employees. The right ones need and deserve that time.



P.S. Now I'm curious. How much bereavement time does your company grant, especially for major losses such as a spouse, parent, sibling or child?


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